Anthony Avalos, 10, who was tortured for days before his death had the same DCFS contact as Gabriel Fernandez
The harrowing and tragic case of eight-year-old Gabriel Fernandez who was tortured and beaten to death by his mother and her boyfriend has left the world in shock.
With Netflix doing a documentary series on the case, viewers were given an insight into the horrific and inhuman abuse endured by the child. The documentary, titled 'The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez', also mentions another case similar to Gabriel's, the case of Anthony Avalos, a 10-year-old who met a similar fate.
Gabriel's case raised many questions on why the system and LA County's Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) failed to save Gabriel. Around five years later, the same institution's failure apparently led to the death of another young boy, Anthony Avalos.
Abuse and torture
Anthony had suffered significant abuse and trauma before his death which included being slammed onto the floor, whipped with a belt and vacuum cord. It is also claimed that the child had hot sauce poured into his mouth as a form of torture.
He was also allegedly burned with cigarettes and prevented from using the toilet in a form of sick abuse.
Following his death, it was found that Anthony's body was covered in bruises, burns, and cuts that were similar to those Gabriel was subjected to. He was also found with severe head injuries, injuries to his side and to his legs.
Anthony died on June 21 in 2018 and the cause of death is reported to have been internal bleeding in his skull after allegedly being dropped on his head multiple times.
According to LA County Deputy District Attorney John Hatami, "At one point Anthony could not walk, was unconscious lying on his bedroom floor for hours, was not provided medical attention and could not eat on his own." Medical officials shared that the child was severely malnourished as well.
Like Gabriel's death, Anthony's death has been linked to homophobia as well. It is believed that Anthony came out a little before his death. His mother Heather Barron and her boyfriend Kareem Leiva have been charged with first-degree murder and torture.
The Netflix documentary revealed that both Gabriel and Anthony's case had the same DCFS contact — Matthew Mansfield, who was a veteran supervisor with the department. Mansfield was responsible was Gabriel’s placement in the voluntary program. He was later “disciplined” for the move following an internal inquiry, according to grand jury transcripts.
In Anthony’s case, Mansfield and colleague Mark Millman brought in counselors from the Children’s Center of the Antelope Valley to provide services for the children and their mother. Heather Barron was then age 24 with four children and another one on the way.
It is believed that DCFS held documented evidence of Anthony's abuse and torture just as they did in Gabriel's case.
According to the LA Times, "Based solely on the information provided by Ms. Barron, the assessor believes that her capacity to provide suitable care for her children is severely limited by her poor parenting skills, poor judgment and denial and lack of awareness of her mental health issues," counselor Luis Ramirez wrote in June 2014.
Anthony's death "seemed so preventable" given that officials were aware of the suspected abuse taking place and that many people had noticed that the child was suffering.
Both children suffered cruel, vicious and repeated abuse in their California homes at the hands of their own mothers and their partners.