STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Update: 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 8:25 PM
Updated: Jul 1, 2018 8:25 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 with murder and torture in the boy's death.

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 were expected to be arraigned on the charges at the Antelope Valley branch of Los Angeles Superior Court, prosecutors said. Their arraignments were continued until Monday, court officials said.

News of Barron's arrest and the charges came hours after family members held a news conference to demand transparency from officials in the investigation into the death of the boy, 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 Sheriff's Department to release all reports regarding abuse of any children at the home over the past five years, and he demanded to see the autopsy findings from the county coroner's office.

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.

On Friday, sheriff's Lt. Derrick Alfred told KTLA the injuries were not unintentional based on physical evidence and statements they had received.

"We believe this was no accident and he was intentionally injured in a manner that resulted in his death unfortunately," Alfred said.

Alfred declined to discuss any specific information about what happened except to say "we have a very long road ahead of us on this case."

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," the boy's aunt Maria 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 been taken from the home since Anthony's death.

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

KTLA's Jennifer Thang, Tracy Bloom and Wes Woods II contributed to this story.

West Lafayette
Few Clouds
83° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 83°
Kokomo
Few Clouds
83° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 83°
Rensselaer
Scattered Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 80°
Fowler
Scattered Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 80°
Williamsport
Scattered Clouds
80° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 81°
Crawfordsville
Broken Clouds
75° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 75°
Frankfort
Scattered Clouds
81° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 82°
Delphi
Scattered Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 80°
Monticello
Scattered Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 80°
Logansport
Broken Clouds
81° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 81°
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 51612

Reported Deaths: 2760
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion12074693
Lake5650249
Elkhart361860
Allen2952134
St. Joseph214869
Hamilton1708101
Cass16459
Hendricks1466100
Johnson1345118
Porter84038
Tippecanoe7799
Vanderburgh7686
Clark71144
Madison67864
LaPorte62328
Howard60758
Bartholomew60145
Kosciusko5824
Marshall5579
Noble52028
Boone49144
LaGrange48610
Jackson4783
Delaware47552
Hancock46836
Shelby45925
Floyd41444
Monroe34828
Morgan34531
Grant32226
Dubois3096
Montgomery29820
Henry29618
Clinton2903
White27610
Dearborn26523
Warrick26129
Vigo2588
Decatur25632
Lawrence25225
Harrison21822
Greene19632
Miami1942
Jennings17912
Putnam1738
DeKalb1694
Scott1659
Wayne1586
Daviess15117
Perry14910
Steuben1382
Orange13723
Jasper1362
Ripley1347
Franklin1288
Gibson1242
Wabash1163
Carroll1142
Starke1083
Whitley1076
Fayette1067
Newton10110
Huntington942
Jefferson872
Wells821
Randolph804
Fulton731
Jay720
Knox710
Washington681
Pulaski661
Clay645
Rush623
Posey610
Spencer571
Owen521
Benton510
Sullivan501
Adams491
Brown431
Blackford402
Fountain362
Crawford330
Switzerland320
Tipton321
Parke270
Martin260
Ohio230
Vermillion200
Warren151
Union140
Pike120
Unassigned0193

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