Family members mourned as they held funeral services for a Lancaster boy who died after alleged abuse by his mother and her boyfriend.
Ten-year-old Anthony Avalos' mother, Heather Barron, 28, and her boyfriend, 32-year-old Kareem Leiva, were charged with murder and torture after the child's death on June 21.
The day before, Barron called 911 saying her son fell in their apartment. Officers responded and found Anthony unresponsive. The boy succumbed to his injuries at a hospital the following morning.
Officials said since Anthony died, at least seven other children ages 11 months to 12 years old were removed from the home. They were also Barron's children, according to family members.
Anthony's father, Victor Avalos, along with the boy's aunt and uncle, Maria and David Barron, have pushed for an investigation of the social workers involved.
Their attorney said documents from the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services indicated 18 visits by social workers to Anthony's home. There were 15 cases of substantiated instances of child abuse and at least two substantiated claims of sexual abuse, according to the lawyer.
DCFS said it was cooperating with investigators while reviewing the case.
At a news conference in front of the the department's office on Tuesday, Avalos spoke about regularly talking to his son from his hometown in Mexico.
The father said he felt the boy wasn't able to open up because his mother always loomed over him.
"We’re all angry, and we want to make sure none of this happens to any other children anywhere," Avalos said.
The family said Anthony's death led to his siblings being taken out of the home, making him a hero.
On Friday morning, a casket carrying his body arrived at Quartz Hill's Saint Junipero Serra Parish before a mass was held.
"No words to express the pain that I’m feeling right now," his father told reporters. "Hopefully, nobody goes through what I’m going through. It’s really, really hard."
Maria Barron tearfully spoke about her nephew.
"I lost a part of me…I would never get that back," she said. "We spent so much time together. His first steps, potty training, teaching him how to read."
Anthony was set to be buried at Good Shepherd Catholic Cemetery in Lancaster after the mass. In honor of the boy, the family had requested guests to wear superhero attire.