Noah Cuatro, 4, of Palmdale, died under suspicious circumstances.
On July 5, he was rushed to two hospitals with injuries that were not consistent with drowning and died the following morning, on July 6 in Children’s Hospital in LA.
On Friday, the Los Angeles Times reported that two sources have reviewed court documents which show that a court order calling for removal from his home was issued in May.
At the time of his death, the boy remained under the active observation of the LA county Department of Children and Family Services after at least 13 calls to the child abuse hotline and police, from people who said they suspected the children in the home were being abused, the sources said.
The parents, Jose and Ursula Cuatro, called 911 on July 5, to say their son had drowned in a pool.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, however, told reporters the boy’s body had signs of trauma that were not consistent with drowning. Noah was pronounced dead Saturday morning.
Villanueva said detectives were interviewing the parents and caseworkers.
The Times said the couple could not be reached for comment. On a GoFundMe page seeking burial funds, Noah’s mother referred to him as “my NoNo” and said she and his father “love him and truly miss all the memories.”
Two other children, Gabriel Fernandez, 8 and Anthony Avalos, 10, who lived within a short drive of Noah’s home, died earlier. Both were being under supervision by the DCFS.
In 2014, DCFS caseworkers substantiated an allegation that Noah’s mother, Ursula, had fractured the skull of a girl related to her. No criminal charges were filed after the district attorney’s office decided there was insufficient evidence, according to a 2014 letter written by the office and read to the Times by one of its sources.
In 2016, Noah was removed from his parents’ home and he lived in foster care for two years before being returned to his parents, the sources said.
After their reunion, new reports arrived of suspected abuse.
In February of this year a DCFS caseworker noted that Noah appeared lethargic and withdrawn. Three more referrals arrived in March and April, including a report that Noah appeared at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center in Sylmar with bruises on his back, the sources said.
On May 13, authorities were told that Jose Cuatro had a problem with alcohol and allegedly kicked his wife and their children while in public, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the case.
This series of childhood deaths in a single community is horrific. Whatever steps need to be taken, must be taken to prevent future childhood fatalities.