Mom'' s sweetheart jailed in death of 10-year-old boy who complained about abuse

(Meredith/AP)– The boyfriend of a Southern California woman whose 10-year-old child died last week under suspicious scenarios– which followed a dozen referrals of presumed kid abuse to kid welfare authorities over several years– was detained Wednesday on suspicion of murder, Los Angeles County constable’s officials said.

Kareem Leiva, 32, was detained in the death of Anthony Avalos after an interview with sheriff’s investigators on Wednesday. The arrest came a day after county kid well-being authorities exposed that the boy had actually formerly reported being beaten, secured and not fed.

Constable’s deputies were called to a home in Lancaster, in the high desert Antelope Valley north of Los Angeles, on June 20 after Anthony’s mom called 911 to report that he had actually fallen down the stairs. Deputies found him unresponsive in the house and he died at a healthcare facility the next day.

Homicide investigators considered Anthony’s death “suspicious” and the Los Angeles County Department of Kid and Household Providers said that there were indications of “physical abuse, including signs of being severely beaten, in addition to malnourishment.”

Brandon Nichols, deputy director of the Los Angeles County Department of Kid and Households, revealed in an interview on Monday that Anthony “stated he liked young boys,” which prompted speculation that his sexuality might have played a role in his death, the Los Angeles Times reported. Sheriff’s Capt. Chris Bergner said homophobia has not turn up as a motive in the investigation.

The boy’s mother, Heather Barron, and Leiva– her sweetheart and the daddy of a few of her other children– were both questioned by homicide detectives and Leiva was detained Wednesday afternoon. The young boy’s mother has actually not been detained and isn’t really dealing with any criminal charges.

“During the course of their interview, suspect Leiva made declarations that led detectives to jail him,” Los Angeles County Constable Jim McDonnell stated. He decreased to elaborate.

McDonnell said the level of the boy’s injuries was “grossly overemphasized” by kid well-being officials and informed press reporters that detectives did not find cigarette burns on Anthony’s body. He decreased to provide particular information of the young boy’s injuries up until an autopsy is completed.

After Anthony’s death, kid well-being authorities eliminated eight other kids– in between 11 months and 12 years old– from the home. They are being taken care of by county child well-being workers, officials said.

Sheriff’s deputies had actually responded to the kid’s home several times over the last couple of years– most recently in April 2016– and there were a variety of suspected kid abuse recommendations, however no arrests were ever made, the McDonnell said.

Private investigators are reviewing each of those cases to determine whether appropriate protocol was followed, he stated.

Kid welfare officials said Anthony had been gotten rid of from his home for numerous months when a few of the reports of abuse were validated. He was returned after family members got in-home therapy, the firm stated.

The firm said it validated 2 accusations including sexual abuse when Anthony was 4 but the case was closed when it was figured out that his mother was effectively looking after him.

The last recommendation regarding Anthony was in April 2016 alleging general overlook. He was spoken with, and the accusations were deemed unproven or inconclusive, officials said.

Throughout the interview on Wednesday, detectives saw that Leiva had a previous injury– a laceration on his chest they believe was self-inflicted– and needed medical attention. He remained hospitalized Wednesday evening and is expected to be held on $2 million bail as soon as he’s clinically cleared, the sheriff stated.

It wasn’t instantly clear if Leiva had a lawyer who might comment on his behalf.

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Follow Michael Balsamo on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MikeBalsamo1.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights scheduled. This material may not be released, broadcast, reworded or rearranged.

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