Veronica Aguilar, a 39-year-old mom-of-four in the historic Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, was slapped with a murder charge on Thursday in connection with the horrifying and heartbreaking death of her 11-year-old son. The boy was found dead on Monday by his stepfather, Aguilar's husband, who immediately called 911 to report the tragedy, according to a report by KTLA TV News in Los Angeles.
When stepdad Jose Pinzon found the boy, Yonatan Daniel Aguilar, on Monday afternoon, the child was already dead, wrapped in a blanket and stuffed in a closet in Aguilar's Echo Park home. Pinzon said that because his cell phone received no signal in the home, he ran two blocks to a nearby 7-11 convenience store to place the 911 emergency call.
Veronica Aguilar charged with murder of her 11 year old son. His body appeared malnourished and was found in closet pic.twitter.com/KQpMiPOm8PAguilar herself told Pinzon that her son had died, but did not call police, according to what the stepdad told investigators, as reported by the MyNewsLA.com news site.
— Kim Baldonado (@KimNBCLA) August 25, 2016
According to a police statement, Yonaton — who had not been seen in local schools since 2012, according to a Los Angeles Times report on the sickening crime — died of starvation. His mother was arrested on Tuesday and on Thursday was charged with starving the boy to death.
Aguilar apparently abused the boy in other ways, as well, according to police.
"The investigation revealed that the victim suffered from signs of malnutrition and physical abuse and had been deceased for a few hours," a Los Angeles Police Department statement said.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney's office also issued a statement, saying that Yonaton Aguilar "allegedly died due to neglect and showed signs of severe malnutrition."
"It's one of the worst cases I've seen in my career," LAPD Detective Moses Castillo told KCBS TV News in Los Angeles.
For further background details, watch a news report on the Veronica Aguilar child abuse and murder case, by KCBS, in the video below.Findings from an autopsy on the boy, that could shed further light on how the helpless 11-year-old died, allegedly at the hands of his own mom, have not yet been made available to the public.
Aguilar is believed to be the mother of three other children as well, ages 14, 16, and 18. The other kids were not at home when the body of their little brother was discovered, but police were able to locate all three.
The two minor children were removed from the custody of Veronica Aguilar and placed with the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services.
Adding another infuriating layer of tragedy to the case, according to the Los Angeles Times, police revealed on Thursday that the county DCFS had received at least three prior reports that Yonaton was being abused, between 2009 and 2012.
But the DCFS declined to comment on the police statement.
"The law does not allow us to confirm or deny whether we provided any services to this child or family," said DCFS spokesperson Armand Montiel, quoted by the Times.
A neighbor, who declined to give her name to the Times, said that other residents on the block were in the dark about the horrific abuse being inflicted on Yonaton Aguilar.
"Every person on this block wouldn't have hesitated to take action if they had known about the child," the neighbor said. "We are all devastated by this tragedy."
Detectives say that the deceased boy was thought to have returned to Mexico sometime in 2012. What exactly happened between then and the 11-year-old's death from starvation on Monday is what police are now trying to piece together.
As part of their investigation, they are trying to track down the boy's biological father.
"I think it's a big piece of the puzzle so that we could find out more about this child," Detective Castillo told KCBS. "Find out about his well-being and what led up to the mom having sole possession of this child."
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Following her arraignment on one charge of the murder of her own son, and one charge of child abuse on Thursday, August 25, Veronica Aguilar was held on $2 million bail and could face anywhere from 15 years to life in prison.
[Featured Photo via Los Angeles Police Department]