Mother Charged With Torturing 10-Year-Old Son To Death After He Came Out As Gay

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The mother of a 10-year-old boy has been charged with murder for allegedly torturing the child to death after he came out as gay, WFTS-TV (Tampa Bay) is reporting.

Heather Maxine Barron and her boyfriend, Kareem Ernesto Leiva, of Lancaster, California, each face one count of murder and one count of torture for the death of Anthony Avalos, 10. Further, Barron faces an additional count of child abuse, and Leiva faces an additional count of assault on a child causing death.

Back on June 20, Barron called 911 to report that her son was unresponsive. She claimed that he had fallen down a flight of stairs. He was taken to a hospital, where he died the next day.

In fact, according to People, the 10-year-old boy showed signs of malnourishment as well as signs of having been severely beaten. And according to The L.A. Times, Avalos had severe head injuries as well as cigarette burns all over his body. However, that’s a statement that Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell disputes.

“Our detectives did not see burns like that on the victim’s body.”

Other allegations raised by the Times include emotional and sexual abuse, as well as neglect.

Los Angeles County’s child welfare authorities were apparently familiar with the household where Avalos had lived. Caseworkers from L.A. County’s Department of Children and Family Services had actually investigated 13 prior allegations of child abuse at the boy’s residence between February 2013 and April 2016. What’s more, they believe that homophobia may have played a role in the boy’s death, as family members say that Anthony had said “he liked boys” just days before he died.

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Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Capt. Chris Bergner told reporters that they are not at this time prepared to say whether or not Anthony was killed because he was gay.

“That has not come up in our investigation as motivation at this time, no.”

Similarly, McDonnell said that his office is not prepared to discuss a motive at this time.

“We wouldn’t discuss motive at this point [in the investigation]. Too early.”

If it is true that Anthony Avalos was murdered by his caregivers for being gay, he would be at least the second young boy to have died in that way in the L.A. area recently. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez was murdered by his mother’s boyfriend, Isauro Aguirre, because Aguirre believed he was gay.

As for Barron and Leiva, they are both currently held on $2 million bond.