Man arrested over murder of 10-year-old boy who came out as bisexual
A man has been arrested and charged with murder in the death of a 10-year-old boy in southern California.
Los Angeles County police said 32-year-old Kareem Leiva, the boyfriend of the child’s mother Heather Barron, had been arrested on murder charges.
“Leiva made statements that led detectives to arrest him for the murder of Anthony Avalos,” Sheriff Jim McDonnell said at a news conference on Wednesday.
Avalos was taken to hospital on June 20 after his mother called 911 to report he had been injured in a fall, according to police.
He was not breathing and unresponsive when emergency workers found him in his home in Lancaster and he died the following day.
His body showed signs of physical abuse and malnutrition and his death was classified as suspicious, according to child welfare workers.
Before his death, he told the welfare agency he had been beaten, locked up and left unfed, according to interviews after the boy was referred to the services.
Los Angeles County Department of Children and Families (DFCS) director Bobby Cagle cast doubt on this story.
In an interview with KCTV, Cagle explained: He had a severe head injury consisting of a brain bleed, plus bruises and abrasions all about his body.
“All that indicates for me that that’s non-accidental.”
A county official said Avalos had recently come out as bisexual.
Brandon Nichols, deputy director of the DFCS, told CBS Los Angeles that the child said “he liked boys and girls” but did not reveal any more details.
The agency said it would investigate whether discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation was a factor in Avalos’ death and reported it had received 13 referrals regarding the child from 2013 onwards.
Avalos was also removed from his home for several months and returned after his relatives received counselling.
Two allegations of sexual abuse were made when Avalos was four, the agency said, but the case was closed after authorities decided that his mother was taking good care of him.
Another referral involving the boy and alleging general neglect was received in April 2016, but was found to be unfounded or inconclusive and was closed after a month.
Earlier this week, Reading Crown Court heard how a father and stepmother had forced their 11-year-old son to perform sexual acts with them in order to “stop him from being gay”.
The stepmother was sentenced to nine years in prison and the father handed a six-year prison sentence.