Tortured life: Court documents show boy with autism locked in closet for 3 years prior to his death
LOS ANGELES, California — Court records obtained by the Los Angeles Times are shedding new light on the “tortured life” of an 11-year-old boy who died in August. Those records reveal the boy, who was reportedly autistic, was locked in closets during the three years prior to his death.
The boy’s mother, 39-year-old Veronica Aguilar is facing murder charges for the death of her son, Yonatan Daniel Aguilar. She has pleaded not guilty.
The court documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times from the Los Angeles County Juvenile Court reveal Yonatan was locked in closets and sedated by liquid sleeping aids given to him by his mother.
His body was found in a bedroom closet in August in the family’s home in Los Angeles’ Echo Park neighborhood.
According to the court documents, when people asked the boy’s mother where her son was, she told them he had been placed in an institution in Mexico. Even the boy’s stepfather apparently wasn’t aware Yonatan was living with his mother the whole time. Her other three children knew the truth and were ordered to keep quiet by their mother. According to the Los Angeles Times, two of the children slept on a bed just outside the closet door.
The court documents show that on August 22nd, Victoria Aguilar told Yonatan’s stepfather that the boy had died, and asked him to care for the other children. Yonatan’s stepfather believed she would be going to Mexico to bury the boy.
The documents detail how Victoria Aguilar led Yonatan’s stepfather to the closet — where the boy’s body was wrapped in a blanket and covered in pressure sores from lying on the tile floor, the Los Angeles Times is reporting. According to the Times, cups of pink and red liquid were found near his body, and the 11-year-old boy was going bald.
The Los Angeles Times petitioned the court to release DCFS case records, police reports and coroner’s reports in this case. The 160 pages of documents show the boy’s family was the focus of six prior reports to DCFS alleging possible abuse or neglect. The boy’s risk of abuse at the home was marked “high” four times between 2009 and 2012 — but yet, social workers didn’t open a case, the Time is reporting.
The director of DCFS told the Los Angeles Times “everyone interacting with the child and his family thought the child was in a safe environment.”
Officials with LAPD told the Los Angeles Times that although allegations of abuse were reported, a police investigation was not launched.
According to the Los Angeles Times, in 2012, there was contact between DCFS and Yonatan, when teachers reported he came to school with a black eye and he was hungry and hoarding food.
After that, the boy disappeared.
If convicted of the murder charges she faces in this case, Veronica Aguilarcould face a maximum sentence of 15 years to life in prison.
Meanwhile, this case is raising questions as to whether more could have been done to save young Yonatan’s life.