A little boy who died under suspicious circumstances may have indicated he was gay before he was found dead with cigarette burns all over his body.
CBS News reports that Anthony Avalos, 10, was pronounced dead on Thursday morning of an apparent head trauma. He was rushed to the hospital with a head injury on Wednesday evening, his body reportedly covered in cigarette burns. Investigators believe the boy’s mother was not telling the truth when she said Anthony had hit his head in a fall.
There are strong indicators that the boy was abused and neglected for years before his death. Department of Child and Family Services Director Bobby Cagle told CBS Los Angeles that DCFS had responded to 13 reports about Anthony’s home between 2013 and 2016.
During part of the year 2014, Anthony received weekly visits from the agency. Investigators reportedly believe he suffered from neglect, denial of food, and severe punishments.
The Los Angeles Times reports that family members, a teacher, and a school administrator called police or the child abuse hotline 16 times.
Anthony’s aunt Maria Barron told the newspaper and NBC News that she long believed Anthony’s mother – who is her sister-in-law — and her boyfriend were abusing the boy.
“He told us that he would get locked up and he wasn’t allowed to use the bathroom,” Barron said.
Barron said she called police in 2015 and reported the suspected abuse to the boy’s school, but nothing was done.
It is unclear why the numerous reports did not lead to a more significant intervention.
“We’re really going through the file….trying to understand exactly what the reasoning was behind that,” DCFS Director Cagle told CBS Los Angeles.
“Hopefully, if there are things that we can change, we will do that.”
Just weeks before he died, Anthony had reportedly said “he liked boys,” DCFS Deputy Director Brendan Nagle told the Los Angeles Times.
Nagle did provide any further specifics, but CBS News reports that authorities are investigating whether homophobia played a role in Anthony’s death.
No arrests have been made at this time. Anthony had six siblings, who have reportedly been removed from the home.
[Feature image: Anthony Avalos/NBC News video screenshot]