A California mother and father have been arrested following the death of their 4-year-old son in July, KTLA-TV reports.
Police on Thursday arrested 27-year-old Jose Cuatro and 25-year-old Ursula Juarez on suspicion of murder, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
The couple initially told authorities that their son, Noah Cuatro, had drowned in a community pool on July 5. Investigators later found evidence inconsistent with that account, including signs of trauma and injuries more aligned with abuse.
The boy was pronounced dead the next day at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
Police on Thursday also executed a search warrant at the couple’s home in the Los Angeles area in pursuit of any evidence linked to the death. The Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner ruled on Tuesday that the boy’s death was a homicide.
Eva Hernandez, the boy’s great-grandmother, cried during a news conference after the arrests on Thursday.
“I wish he was here,” Hernandez told reporters. “He was so loving. He was so sweet. He was such a smart little boy.”
The boy had been removed from his mother’s custody at birth and put in foster care until Hernandez began caring for him when he was about 3 months old.
The child’s parents were able to reestablish custody when was 9 months old, but he went back to foster care about a year later until Hernandez again took him in. Hernandez told the television station the parents lost their rights because of alleged malnutrition and neglect.
Cuatro and Juarez regained custody in November 2018. The Los Angeles County Office of Child Protection found social workers had acted properly in returning the boy to his parents, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Brian Claypool, Hernandez’s attorney, disputes that finding, alleging authorities “deliberately disregarded” the child’s welfare.
Claypool said Noah would often plead not to leave his grandmother.
“He would cry, grab onto her arm, onto her leg because he did not want to leave her,” Claypool told KTLA-TV.
Hernandez said she also told social workers the child begged to stay with her.
“He would hold on to me and say, ‘Don’t send me back, grandma,’” Hernandez said.
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[Feature Photo: Noah Cuatro/GoFundMe]