The mother of a 3-year-old boy who was critically injured after being stabbed in Cudahy has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department announced Tuesday.
Michelle Betancourt, 23, was taken into custody and booked at the sheriff’s East L.A. Station Tuesday morning, according to sheriff’s deputy Kelvin Moody.
The arrest came more than 12 hours after deputies found the injured toddler in the 3800 block of Walnut Street (map) on Monday night. He had been stabbed in the upper torso area, a news release from the Sheriff’s Department’s stated.
Moody told KTLA earlier that it was not immediately clear whether the toddler had been stabbed at the home.
A neighbor, Cynthia Griego, told KTLA her father went outside of her residence last night after hearing screams and saw a woman holding the boy, who was covered in blood all over his upper body.
“He ran outside and he saw the lady holding the kid in her arm, and he had blood all over him — his chest, his neck,” Griego said. “So my dad told me he was going to walk away because he thought that the little boy died, and then he said he heard him crying. So he ran up to the kid, grabbed him from the lady. He started putting pressure on his neck.”
Griego added that her father told her the woman appeared to have been in shock. It was unclear if the woman Griego described was the suspect.
Another neighbor described the woman as crying and screaming, “my son’s dying, he can’t breathe.”
The victim, whose name has not been released, was taken to a local hospital.
Moody previously told KTLA that the toddler had died, but sheriff’s officials later corrected that initial information twice. First, sheriff’s official said he was near death before later issuing another correction clarifying that the child was in critical condition.
Detectives interviewed the boy’s relatives at the East L.A. Sheriff’s Station earlier in the morning, investigators said.
Later, the department said his mother had been arrested.
“We believe the mother intentionally stabbed the victim,” Lt. Holly Francisco of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said.
The family had lived at the home for about a year and had a history of domestic violence, neighbor’s said.
The child’s mother, father and 9-year-old sister were all heard screaming before the toddler was stabbed, according to a neighbor named Cassandra.
Betancourt was booked at the East Los Angeles Sheriff’s Station and was being held in lieu of $1-million bail.
Anyone with information about the stabbing was asked to call the department’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Those wishing to remain anonymous have been urged to contact crime stoppers by dialing 800-222-8477.
KTLA’s Justin Burton contributed to this story.