The death of a young Palmdale boy initially reported as a drowning last week is now the subject of a suspicious death investigation, officials announced Tuesday.
The parents of the child, identified only as “baby Noah,” told authorities he drowned Friday in a community pool on the 1200 block of Avenue S, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Lt. Joe Mendoza said in a news briefing.
Noah was taken to a children’s hospital in Los Angeles area, where he was pronounced dead just after 8 a.m. the next day. However, medical staff there found trauma on the boy’s body that was inconsistent with drowning, Mendoza said.
Although investigators initially described the boy as 3 years old, they later said he was 4.
Authorities did not immediately release many details on the case, which was first made public Tuesday afternoon.
Mendoza said detectives still “don’t have a lot of the facts clear.”
The child’s parents are being questioned but have not been arrested, according to Mendoza. The lieutenant said he believes they are the boy’s biological parents.
The family lives at the address where Noah was reported to have drowned, Mendoza said, indicating the pool is part of a residential complex.
L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger made a general statement about foster children and reunification with their parents, but said she could not confirm whether or not Noah was ever in foster care.
“The goal within the county is to always do family reunification,” Barger said. “When you look at what the county’s role is, family reunification is first and foremost.”
Barger said Noah has siblings, and Mendoza said three other children in the home have been taken into protective custody.
Investigators are working on getting Noah’s case file from the county’s Department of Children and Family Services. Mendoza said he believes there are “previous reports,” but detectives are still trying to obtain them.
Investigators plan to have more information in the coming days.
Barger said authorities are working to gather facts before jumping to conclusions.
“This is a deep dive, as we do on all our cases — as we did on Gabriel, as we’ve done on Anthony,” she said, referring to Gabriel Fernandez and Anthony Avalos, two young Antelope Valley boys who were killed in homes they had been placed in by the Department of Children and Family Services.
Avalos’ mother and boyfriend are facing capital murder charges in the Lancaster boy’s death, while Fernandez’s mother received and lifetime prison sentence and her boyfriend was sentenced to death after a jury found they tortured and killed the boy.
Barger promised to monitor the most recent case closely to “ensure transparency and accountability, something that Noah deserves.”
The county supervisor called Noah’s case a “chilling reminder that government alone cannot do this,” and said child welfare was “a shared responsibility.”
“We also know that nothing will change without the support and involvement of everyone around us and everyone in our local communities,” she said. “Change happens from the bottom up.”
Barger asked the public to help her “in looking for a way to improve child welfare.”
Correction: A previous version of this story provided an incorrect statement attributed to L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger. This post has been updated.