STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Mother, Her Boyfriend Charged With Murder and Torture in Death of 10-Year-Old

The mother of a 10-year-old boy who died after being found unresponsive in the family's home in Lancaster was arreste...

Posted: Jul 1, 2018 7:17 PM
Updated: Jul 1, 2018 7:17 PM

The mother of a 10-year-old boy who died after being found unresponsive in the family's home in Lancaster was arrested Friday, and both she and her boyfriend have been charged in the homicide, authorities announced.

Heather Maxine Barron, 28, has been charged with one count each of murder, torture and child abuse, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

Her boyfriend, 32-year-old Kareem Ernesto Leiva, was also charged with murder, torture and one count of assault on a child causing death, a news release from the DA's office stated. He was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of murder.

Both are expected to be arraigned on the charges at the Antelope Valley Branch of Los Angeles Superior Court, prosecutors said.

News of the new arrest and charges came hours after family members held a news conference to demand transparency from officials in the investigation into the death of Anthony Avalos.

Attorney Brian Claypool, who represents the family members, appeared at the news conference asking the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services to release all records reporting abuse of Avalos at his home, all findings resulting from those investigations, and any other reports of abuse of any other children at the home within the past five years.

"We are here today on behalf of Anthony to demand 100 percent transparency in the investigation of his death," Claypool said.

Claypool also asked the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department to release all reports regarding abuse of any children at the home over the past five years and are demanding to see the autopsy findings from the Los Angeles County medical examiner.

Avalos was found unresponsive after his mother called 911 saying he had suffered a fall in their apartment in the 1100 block of East Avenue K on June 20. Avalos died the following morning.

Barron and Leiva are accused of torturing the boy in the days before he died, according to prosecutors.

The DCFS director said in a statement Tuesday that Avalos had evidence of "being a victim of physical abuse, including signs of being severely beaten, as well as malnourishment."

Sheriff Jim McDonnell said the description was "grossly overstated," but did confirm that investigators believe the boy died from abuse.

Family members want to know why Avalos was allowed to remain in the home despite years of documented abuse. Twelve referrals to the department were made for Anthony between February 2013 and April 2016, beginning with an allegation of sexual abuse that was later substantiated.

At one point Avalos was removed from the home and placed with relatives, but was later allowed to return.

Avalos recently told family members he liked boys, the Los Angeles Times reported, but investigators said homophobia has not yet come up as a motive.

"Anthony's dreams of becoming a police officer or a firefighter will never be fulfilled. But rest assured my sweet baby boy that you will always be loved … Anthony, you will always be in our hearts," Maria, who is an aunt of Avalos, said Friday.

Officials have confirmed that Leiva has a criminal history and gang ties, but said they were not enough to warrant the boy's removal from the home.

Eight other children have since been taken from the home.

If convicted, Barron could be sentenced to 22 years to life in prison, while Leiva faces a possible maximum sentences of 32 years to life.

KTLA's Jennifer Thang and Tracy Bloom contributed to this story.

West Lafayette
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 81°
Kokomo
Few Clouds
78° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 80°
Rensselaer
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 75°
Fowler
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 75°
Williamsport
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 79°
Crawfordsville
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 75°
Frankfort
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 78°
Delphi
Clear
76° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 76°
Monticello
Clear
76° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 76°
Logansport
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 75°
Calm and Cloudy Start this Wednesday Morning.
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 75862

Reported Deaths: 3069
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion16088730
Lake7688278
Elkhart492685
Allen4002163
St. Joseph357883
Hamilton2829104
Vanderburgh202213
Hendricks1927108
Cass18029
Johnson1789119
Porter135539
Clark128749
Tippecanoe123811
Madison100665
LaPorte93130
Howard91365
Kosciusko86812
Bartholomew81747
Floyd80948
Marshall79323
Monroe76631
Delaware74552
Dubois70812
Vigo69911
Noble68829
Boone68746
Hancock68339
Jackson5965
Warrick58830
Shelby56527
LaGrange56310
Grant52930
Dearborn51228
Morgan49334
Clinton4444
Henry40620
Wayne38510
White37611
Montgomery35921
Lawrence35227
Harrison34823
Decatur34132
Putnam3128
Daviess27720
Miami2772
Scott27210
Jasper2552
Greene25434
Franklin24615
DeKalb2384
Gibson2314
Jennings22712
Steuben2133
Ripley2138
Carroll1962
Fayette1947
Perry18713
Posey1790
Starke1787
Wells1742
Orange17424
Fulton1722
Wabash1703
Jefferson1672
Knox1610
Whitley1556
Tipton14312
Washington1421
Sullivan1381
Spencer1373
Clay1245
Huntington1243
Randolph1244
Newton12010
Adams1092
Owen991
Jay920
Rush854
Pulaski811
Fountain742
Brown741
Blackford652
Ohio656
Benton640
Pike590
Vermillion580
Switzerland530
Parke511
Martin480
Crawford450
Union410
Warren241
Unassigned0206

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events