A 10-year-old Lancaster, California, boy who was found dead in his abusive home last week had come out as gay, an official told the Los Angeles Times.
Brandon Nichols, deputy director of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, told the Los Angeles Times on Monday that Anthony Avalos "said he liked boys." That report was later confirmed by NBC4.
Additional details, such as who the boy told and when, weren’t available.
The boy’s aunt, Maria Barron, told the Los Angeles Times that she began alerting the Department of Children and Family Services in 2015, when she noticed bruises and other injuries on Anthony and other children in the home. For him to have come out as gay "only reinforces how brave Anthony was," she told the newspaper.
Barron told CBS that she believes Anthony's mother and her boyfriend were abusing him.
"He told us that he would get locked up and he wasn't allowed to use the bathroom," she said.
Sources told the Los Angeles Times in a Sunday story that family members, school administrators and others called police at least 16 times since 2013 to report abuse in the Avalos family home.
The Department of Children and Family Services said Tuesday that it confirmed two allegations that a grandparent sexually abused the boy when he was 4, according to the Associated Press. The case was later closed. The Associated Press also reported Tuesday that the agency removed the boy from the family home for several months at one point.
Avalos was unresponsive and critically injured when police responded to a 911 call of a child not breathing on Wednesday, according to CBS. Officials said they were told the boy suffered injuries from a fall.
He died at a hospital Thursday morning, according to NBC4, and his death was considered suspicious.
No arrests have been made.
Seven children, ranging in age from 11 months to 12 years old, were removed from the home by Child Protective Services, CBS reported.
Anthony's grandmother, Concepcion Ramirez, told NBC4 that Anthony wouldn't want to go home after visiting her.
"He said they abused him physically," she told the TV station.