‘Please, He Doesn’t Want to Leave’: Boy Begs to Stay With Relative, Dies After He’s Returned Home

July 11, 2019 Updated: July 11, 2019

A report said a 4-year-old California boy who died under suspicious circumstances begged his great-grandmother to let him stay with her rather than be returned to his parents.

Noah Cuatro died on July 6 after reportedly drowning in a pool, and his parents took him to a hospital, according to KTLA.

Medical staff, however, found trauma on the child’s body that was inconsistent with drowning, it was reported.

Eva Hernandez, the child’s great-grandmother, told the station that he was taken from his mother at birth and was in and out of foster care until he was placed in Hernandez’s custody when he was 3 months old.

He was sent back to his parents home at 9 months of age but was removed after a year due to neglect and malnutrition, she told KTLA. He was again placed in foster care until Hernandez again regained custody of the boy before he lived with her for two years.

In November 2018, he was sent back to his mother and father. Noah, she said, begged them not to.

“I told the social workers, ‘Please, he doesn’t want to leave. He wants to stay here. He begged me,’” Hernandez told KTLA. “He would hold on to me and say, ‘Don’t send me back, grandma.’ I don’t know. I couldn’t do anything. I just had to send him back.”

The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department said it is now investigating the circumstances surrounding the boy’s death, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva said, “Once the child was transported to a local hospital, there was some trauma found on the body that was inconsistent with a drowning … At this point, we’re retrieving the case file as we speak—we’re going to be reviewing that case file, and we’ll have more information in the next coming days.”

More Details

Hernandez told KLTA that after several months in his parents’ custody, the child seemed different.

“He was not the same little boy anymore,” Hernandez said. “He looked so sad and withdrawn.”

She also got the sense that he wanted to tell her something.

“He didn’t have the chance. She was just looking at him, and he wouldn’t say anything,” Hernandez said of his mother. “He would say, ‘Grandma,’ then he would just shut down. I kept saying, ‘What’s wrong? Tell me baby,’ and he wouldn’t say it.”

Hernandez said she filed a complaint with the Department of Children and Family Services after receiving a tip that Noah was being abused. Social workers allegedly told her that everything was fine.

“If they would have taken him out of there, he would still be here,” Hernandez said, adding that “the kids don’t have a voice.”

Three other children were removed from the home, KTLA reported.

ABC7 reported that during Noah’s time in foster care, he stayed at Bithiah’s House, which houses babies and toddlers with medical issues.

Its co-founder, Michelle Thompson, said he was malnourished and couldn’t walk.

Yet, “He was such a joy,” Thompson told the station. “He had this crazy wild brown hair and he was so joyful.”

Other details about the case are not clear. Local news reports didn’t reveal the names of Noah’s parents.

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