A Connecticut mother who starved her disabled teen son until he died—weighing 84 pounds—was sentenced to 11 years in prison on Tuesday.
According to WVIT, mother Katiria Tirado, 34, was found to have screwed kitchen cabinets shut and locked the refrigerator to prevent son Matthew Tirado, 17, from overeating. Katiria had claimed that the teen had a compulsive eating issue.
Matthew—who had intellectual disabilities and autism—showed signs of suffering long-term abuse when he died, the Hartford Courant reported. One of the most staggering signs was the 5-foot-8-inch teen weighed a mere 84 pounds when Katiria called for an ambulance that fateful day in February 2017.
The teen had a stomach ache and had been vomiting for 24 hours before his mother called for help. His tiny frame shocked emergency crews so much that they contacted the Department of Children and Families hours before Matthew succumbed to his extensive injuries, according to the newspaper.
An autopsy revealed Matthew’s cause of death as “fatal child abuse syndrome with dehydration and malnutrition.” The report also noted that the teen had scars, bruises, and healed rib fractures.
DCF caught harsh criticism as Katiria Tirado was on the state’s child abuse registry and had pulled Matthew and another child out of school a year before Matthew’s death. Furthermore, Hartford schools had filed five neglect reports involving Matthew in an 18-month period, the Courant reported.
And despite all of this, DCF closed their case against Katiria a month before Matthew’s death. The agency claimed Katiria had prevented them from speaking with her son and refused help they offered.
A report by Office of the Child Advocate called for local and state agencies to make “systemic improvement[s]” to prevent an incident like this from happening again.
“Nothing speaks more profoundly to the need for systemic improvement than the fact that a child who had already been identified as a victim of abuse and neglect went unseen for almost a year prior to his death from child abuse,” the report stated.
(The report can be read in its entirety below.)
The victim’s father, Pedro Gomez, 61, called Katiria a “murderer” and claimed she prevented him from seeing their son. He also accused the mother of calling Matthew “retarded.”
According to the Courant, Gomez had been convicted of sexual assault and risk of injury to a minor by the time he had impregnated Katiria, a high school dropout. The illicit encounter was something the defense claimed deeply affected Katiria, calling her “a victim of a sexual predator.”
“At the age of 15, she became pregnant by a man in his 40s and at that time, who was already a convicted sex offender,” William O’Connor, Katiria’s attorney, said, according to WFSB.
“Ms. Tirado’s intellectual limitations and becoming a single parent at a very young age, coupled with her own son’s significant cognitive impairments, created a perfect storm for Matthew’s untimely death.”
Katiria pleaded guilty in February to manslaughter under the Alford doctrine, meaning she disagreed with the allegations but agreed there was enough evidence for a guilty verdict. After completing her prison sentence, she will serve five years’ probation and is barred from having any contact with minors.
[Featured image: Katiria Tirado/Hartford Police Department; Matthew Tirado/GoFundMe]