After police called the death of a 10-year-old Lancaster boy suspicious, investigators confirmed Friday that there were allegations of prior abuse.
Anthony Avalos, 10, died Wednesday after being taken to the hospital in critical condition. Police were told initially that he suffered injuries from a fall at the family's apartment complex in the 1100 block of East Avenue K.
Avalos' aunt, Maria Barron, told authorities the boy was being abused.
Three years prior, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department confirmed they had investigated alleged abuse, but the investigation was halted after children involved recanted their statements or changed their stories.
His grandmother, Concepcion Ramirez, claimed that Anthony never wanted to go home after visiting with her.
"It had been happening for a long time. When he came to visit me, he use to tell me things. He said they abused him physically," Ramirez said.
The alleged abuse ranged from keeping him in closets to burning him with cigarettes, Ramirez said.
Top news of the day
Avalos' death is the second child death connected to Department of Family and Child Services Lancaster office since 2014.
"The concern that I have is whether this is a systemic problem," said Bobby Cagle, director of the LA County Department of Children and Family Services. "As we look into this very deeply, that answer will become very clear; and if there is, we will take the appropriate action. At this point in time, I think it's premature."
The case would not considered a crime until more interviews could be conducted and a coroner's investigation could be completed.
NBC4's Lolita Lopez contributed to this report.