The parents of a California boy claimed to cops their 4-year-old son drowned in a pool have been arrested on suspicion of murder, authorities said.
Jose Cuatro, 27, and Ursula Juarez, 25, were busted Thursday in the death of Noah Cuatro, a Palmdale boy who died at a hospital one day after the couple reported finding him lifeless in a pool on July 5, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
But hospital staffers said they found injuries to the boy’s body that were inconsistent with drowning and indicated possible abuse.
A suspicious death investigation was then launched, and a coroner on Tuesday ruled that he was the victim of a homicide, police said.
Exactly what led to the boy’s death remains unclear, and the results of an autopsy are still pending, KNBC reports.
But a search warrant has been served at the couple’s residence to recover “any additional evidence” connected to his murder, the department said in a statement Thursday.
“The facts of this investigation will be presented to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for filing consideration,” the statement read. “This investigation is ongoing.”
An attorney for the boy’s great-grandmother – who cared for Noah before he was returned to his parents – commended investigators for the arrests, but accused the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services of “having blood on its hands” for disregarding a court-mandated removal order issued in May, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Eva Hernandez now intends to sue the agency in federal court for “deliberately disobeying” the order, attorney Brian Claypool said. He’s now awaiting additional details regarding the evidence that led to the arrests more than two months after Noah’s death.
“If the district attorney and LA County sheriff has evidence that Noah Cuatro was beaten to death, then we would think there might be elevated charges for murder,” Claypool said. “We are just putting our faith in the hands of law enforcement and the district attorney to get justice for Noah.”
Hernandez, meanwhile, told reporters that Noah had pleaded to stay with her prior to being removed from her care — most recently in 2018 — after accusations that his parents were neglecting him, KTLA reports.
“I told the social workers, ‘Please, he doesn’t want to leave, he wants to stay here,’” Hernandez said. “He begged me. He would hold onto me and say, ‘Don’t send me back, grandma.’”
A report released earlier this month found that social workers and supervisors in Noah’s case had acted appropriately by leaving him in his Palmdale home, the Times reported.
Cuatro and Juarez, who remain held on $1 million bond, are expected to appear in court on Monday, online records show. It’s unclear if they’ve hired attorneys.