Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

Los Angeles County sheriff’s homicide detectives are investigating the death of a 2-year-old Signal Hill boy who was under the protective supervision of L.A. County social workers when he died.

Josue-Rey Maldonado was pronounced dead Aug. 10. A county Department of Children and Family Services report reviewed by the Los Angeles Times says the “apparent mode of death is homicide” and notes there was bruising on the body.

Sheriff’s detectives said an official cause of death would be determined after a coroner’s investigation, The Times reported.

Josue-Rey’s death came after child welfare workers decided to leave the boy in the custody of his mother, who was receiving court-ordered services to improve her parenting skills and regular visits from social workers, according to the report cited by The Times.

Last year, social workers investigated a complaint that Josue-Rey had been abandoned, that the father had used methamphetamine and that the boy had been present during a domestic violence incident involving a gun, the report said. The inquiry found substantial evidence of neglect by both parents, The Times reported.

The DCFS report said the boy was in the care of his mother, Jessica Cereceres, and her boyfriend, Samuel Aguilar, when he died, The Times reported. Neither responded to the newspaper’s requests for comment. The boy’s father was no longer in the home at the time of his death.

According to witness accounts cited in the DCFS report, Josue-Rey was seen the night before his death with bruising on his face. He had vomited and was not alert but he was not taken for medical treatment.

Early the next day, he was taken to the hospital with signs of physical abuse, and doctors pronounced him dead after resuscitation efforts failed. Other children in the home — ages 1, 3 and 5 — were taken into protective custody, and the 1-year-old was treated at the hospital for bruising and liver problems, according to the DCFS report cited by The Times.

&mdash City News Service

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