The family of the allegedly malnourished 11-year-old boy found dead in a closet of his Los Angeles home was the subject of six previous reports to the city’s Department of Children and Family Services dating back to before the boy’s birth, PEOPLE confirms.
Department spokesperson Neil Zanville tells PEOPLE the department received calls about the boy, Yonatan Daniel Aguilar, four times, from 2009 to 2012. Two additional calls regarding one of Yonatan’s older siblings were placed in 2002, prior to the boy’s birth.
All of the reports were investigated, but none led to an open case that would have required child supervision and services, according to Zanville.
“Social workers went out and interviewed the child, family members, people at school, to determine if the child could remain in his home,” Zanville said. “That investigation revealed the child could safely remain in his home. There was no evidence that the child needed to be detained.”
According to a report by the Los Angeles Times, two teachers contacted the DCFS to report worries about Yonatan within days of each other in 2012, including one who reported the child allegedly had a black eye. Yonatan allegedly claimed the black eye was an injury resulting from falling on a pile of rocks while playing soccer, the outlet reports.
Although social workers and police checked into the case, they determined the boy to be living in a safe environment, according to the paper.
Additional reports were filed in 2009 and 2011, the L.A. Times reports. Police interviewed a school nurse, the principal and the school psychologist in the 2009 case after concerns about physical abuse were raised, but authorities chose not to conduct a full investigation.
In 2011, a hospital social worker said Yonatan was suffering from “general neglect,” a term used to indicate poor living conditions, according the L.A. Times. However, a case was not opened.
Zanville notes that police were also made aware of Yonatan’s situation and conducted their own investigation.
According to Zanville, the DCFS did not receive any reports on the family after 2012. He said that his department does not have the authority to check up on a family that had previously been reported.
“If we had received a call after 2012, we would have gone out and further investigated,” Zanville says. “Our department can’t protect children alone. We rely on community members, family members, neighbors, school officials, to help.”
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In August 2016, Yonatan’s dead body was discovered at his Echo Park home by his stepfather, allegedly wrapped in a blanket. Jose Pinzon called authorities and said his wife allegedly told him that her son – from another father – was dead.
The child’s mother, 39-year-old Veronica Aguilar, was arrested on suspicion of child endangerment resulting in death, police said.
According to a statement from Los Angeles police obtained by PEOPLE, “The investigation revealed that the victim suffered from signs of malnutrition and physical abuse and had been deceased for a few hours.”
According to Fox News Latino, three siblings were not home when the child’s body was found. The two minors have been released to the department of Child Protective Services.
Aguilar delayed entering a plea until Sept. 8, according to the L.A. Times. She is being held in lieu of $2 million bail.