Great-grandma allegedly banned from funeral of boy who had begged not to be reunited with parents
This week, civil rights activist Najee Ali led a silent protest during a private viewing at the funeral of 4-year-old Noah Cuatro, after the boy's parents banned Eva Hernandez from attending. Hernandez's allegations of child abuse did not purportedly sit well with Noah's parents Jose and Ursula.
"It was a week ago Eva Hernandez the grandmother of 4 year old Noah Cuatro who was sexually assaulted and murdered by his parents asked me to hold up a picture of Noah at his funeral because she was banned by his killer's for confirming the child abuse and demanding justice for Noah," Ali said on Facebook. "Today I kept my word."
On July 6, Jose and Ursula brought Noah to a hospital, claiming that he had drowned in a pool at their apartment complex in Palmdale. Medical staff, however, was skeptical of their account after finding signs of trauma on the toddler's body.
In the days following Noah's death, Hernandez told multiple outlets that the child was first removed from his parents's care when he was just a baby. The boy supposedly spent his first months in and out of foster care before Hernandez was allowed to take him in.
Six months later, a court demanded that Hernandez return Noah to his parents, who spent a limited amount of time with him before the child was again under the great-grandmother's care. Although the child reportedly lived stably for the next two years, Hernandez became increasingly worried about her Ursula's ability to care for him amid Ursula's occasional visits.
"Grandma," she recalled the boy telling her. "You can't let me go. You can't let me go.' He’s looking at me, begging me not to let him go, and I had to let him go."
Noah was returned to his parents a second time last November. Over the months, though, the toddler's demeanor drastically changed, according to Hernandez and a report from a caseworker. Additionally, between March and April of this year, several reports of suspected child abuse involving Noah came to light, with one report claiming that the child had gone to the hospital with bruises on his back.
In May, a caseworker filed a 26-page request to again remove Noah from Jose and Ursula's custody in light of accusations that the boy's father had kicked Ursula and their children in public. Even though a judge granted the request, Noah was never returned to foster care.
Since Noah's passing, Los Angeles County's Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) has come under fire for its handling of his case. Last Tuesday, in an effort to get answers, the agency's Board of Supervisors grilled director Bobby Cagle, who took the blame for the child's death.
"This death happened on my watch," Cagle said. "I fully accept the responsibility for the work that was done. I also fully accept the responsibility for understanding what went wrong, what we can do better and to implement that as quickly as possible."
Despite the fact that police have yet to charge Noah's parents, Hernandez's attorney Brian Claypool has publicly called for law enforcement to reopen a 2014 investigation into accusations of abuse by the toddler's mother, KCAL reports.
“At age 2, Noah Cuatro was reported by a doctor to be starving and malnourished. He couldn't even walk," Claypool told the station this week. “Why haven't there been charges filed for child neglect and child abuse stemming from that?"