A FOUR-YEAR-OLD boy was found dead with horror injuries after begging social services not to send him back to his “abusive” mum and dad.
Noah Cuatro’s parents claim he drowned in a swimming pool on July 6 – but doctors in Palmdale, California, say his injuries were inconsistent with drowning.
Detectives say a trauma was found to his body, but have not clarified what that was.
Devastated great-grandma Eva Hernandez had looked after Noah on multiple occasions when social services removed him from his parents.
‘HE BEGGED ME TO STAY’
She said the youngster had been petrified about the prospect of returning home last November.
Hernandez told KTLA: “I told the social workers, ‘Please. He doesn’t want to leave. He wants to stay here. He begged me.’
“He would hold on to me and say, ‘Don’t send me back, Grandma.’
He would hold on to me and say, ‘Don’t send me back, Grandma’
Noah's great-grandma, Eva Hernandez
“I don’t know. I couldn’t do anything. I just had to send him back.”
He was first placed with Hernandez at three months before returning to his parents six months later.
But just a year later he was put back in his great-grandma’s care after being neglected and malnourished, it was claimed.
Noah spent two years living with his grandma before he was returned to his parents last year.
‘HE WAS NOT THE SAME’
Hernandez says his parents stopped her from seeing Noah until three months before his death.
“He was not the same little boy anymore,” she recalled.
“He looked so sad and withdrawn.”
Foster care home manager Michelle Thompson told how Noah had spent seven months at the centre.
She told Eyewitness News he was malnourished and unable to walk when he arrived but improved dramatically under their care.
“He was such a joy,” Thompson recalled. “He had this crazy wild brown hair and he was so joyful.”
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Hernandez was tipped-off by a friend that Noah was being abused, and contacted children’s services in Palmdale to make an unannounced visit.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said “family reunification is first and foremost” the goal of social services.
Noah’s parents were questioned by police on Wednesday, but no arrests have yet been made.
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