The Department of Children and Family Services in Los Angeles, California has opened an internal investigation after an 11-year-old boy was found dead in a closet in his family’s home after the agency investigated the family 6 times without opening a case.
11-year-old Yonatan Daniel Aguilar was kept in a small bedroom closet for three years, according to LAPD’s investigation.
The closet was so small that the boy, who weighed just 34 pounds, couldn’t stretch out his legs.
Yonathan was autistic and officers learned from his siblings that their mother, Veronica Aguilar allegedly used cough syrup to sedate him every time she locked him up. Investigators also believe the mother was starving her son.
Police found Yonathan dead in the bedroom closet in August, and now new information shows DCF investigated the family 6 times for neglect or abuse.
Investigators say Yonathan's stepfather who lived in the home, allegedly didn't know he was being kept there throughout the entire 3-year period. Investigators say he was shocked when his wife led them to the boy's body and he immediately called 9-1-1.
What's even more disturbing is who did know about the abuse. Yonathan's three teenage siblings were allegedly the only ones who knew about the abuse. Investigators suspect they were too scared of their mother to tell anyone what was happening. Two of them slept in the room where their younger brother was being kept in the closet.
Yonatan’s mother is waking up behind bars Monday. She has pled not guilty to the child abuse charges.
Although DCFS investigated the family six times for possible abuse or neglect and Yonatan's risk of abuse at home was gauged as "high", social workers never opened a case.
Veronica Aguilar, who volunteered at her kids' school, apparently convinced everyone nothing was amiss, according to our CBS affiliate in LA reports. Investigators reportedly talked to the school nurse, the school doctors, school counselors, the teachers, and LAPD investigators, who all said everything was OK.
The 39-year-old mother, told almost everyone, including Yonatan's stepfather, that she had sent the boy to an institution in Mexico.
Veronica Aguilar is now charged with murder and child abuse causing death. She remains jailed on $2 million bail.