Boy Found Dead in Closet Had Been Sedated and Hidden for at Least 3 Years

An 11-year-old boy who was found dead in a closet of his family's California home was kept hidden and sedated in closets for at least three years, so well-concealed that even his stepfather didn't know he was in the house, it was reported Thursday.

Citing redacted court records, the Los Angeles Times reported that Yonatan Daniel Aguilar effectively disappeared in 2012 after he showed up at school with a black eye and school officials said he was hoarding food.

His mother, Veronica Aguilar -- who is charged with murder and child abuse causing death -- told the boy's therapist that Yonatan lived with his maternal grandmother until age 3, and he was likely deprived of food during that time and developed the habit of hoarding food, according to the records cited by The Times. A school official, meanwhile, told a social worker that Aguilar seemed genuinely concerned about the boy and was an involved parent.

After that contact, however, the boy was pulled out of school and disappeared, as the family moved from home to home. The county Department of Children and Family Services -- which had responded to six reports of possible abuse or neglect involving the family from 2009 to 2012 and marked the boy's risk of abuse "high" four times -- had no further contact, The Times reported. Social workers never formally opened a case, saying allegations of abuse were inconclusive or unfounded, according to the records cited by the paper.

Yonatan didn't resurface until Aug. 22, when Aguilar told the boy's stepfather, Jose Pinzon, that the boy had died. Pinzon had been told previously by Aguilar that she sent Yonatan to Mexico to live with family, and he hadn't seen the boy in years, The Times reported.

But on Aug. 22, Aguilar led Pinzon to a closet in their Echo Park home, where Yonatan's emaciated, 34-pound body was wrapped in a blanket. Authorities said the boy's body was covered in pressure sores from the tile floor, there was foam in his nose and medicinal cups of pink and red liquid near his balding body, according to the records obtained by The Times.

Pinzon ran to a 7-Eleven and called police.

According to the court records, Aguilar's other three children were the only ones who knew Yonatan was being hidden in the closet, but Aguilar forbade them from telling anyone.

After the body was discovered, Pinzon told authorities that whenever he went to a 99 Cent Store to shop, Aguilar would ask him to buy purple-colored "jarabe," or syrup.

"He said that any time he would go to the store the mother would ask him to bring the syrup,'' according to DCFS records obtained by The Times. "He would ask her why she was buying syrup, if they did not have money."

Aguilar, 39, remains jailed on $2 million bail.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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