Trigger warning: Contains graphic descriptions of child abuse which may be distressing to some readers
We believe a child is safest under the care and guidance of his mother. But sometimes, parents too can become the enablers of abuse or even be the abuser. An 8-year-old boy from Los Angeles suffered at the hands of his mother and her boyfriend until his death. His cries for help were unheard and he underwent what no child should ever go through.
According to The Atlantic, Gabriel Fernandez passed away a few days after his mother Pearl Fernandez called the emergency services on 22 May, 2013. She told the first responders that her son had slipped, hit his head, and stopped breathing. However, the paramedics knew there was more to the story because the child’s body hinted at signs of abuse. The little child had broken ribs, a cracked skull, and other injuries. Besides, the paramedics found pellets from a BB gun in his skin.
The child, who was immediately transported to the hospital, was declared brain dead. And a few days later, he bid farewell to the world forever. His death shed light on the gruesome sufferings he had to endure due to his mother and her boyfriend, Isauro Aguirre.
The couple was arrested and they admitted to the abuse. They confessed that the boy was beaten before the emergency services arrived.
The couple told the court that they ill-treated the boy because they thought he was gay. According to Mirror online, the judge referred to the abuse as “horrendous, inhumane, and nothing short of evil.” The mother was sentenced to life in prison without parole and her boyfriend was sentenced to death for first-degree murder with the intention to murder by torture.
The helpless boy moved with his mother in October 2012. Previously, he was raised by his uncle and his grandparents. Though the child’s family members were not supportive of sending him away with his mother, they gave in after the mother insisted. The mother wanted to claim welfare benefits and she could not do it without having her child stay with her.
Unfortunately, the child was forced to move in with her. He stayed there with two of his siblings and her boyfriend. However, his stay was nothing close to what he expected.
He was subjected to physical abuse and the child spent most of his nights with a sock in his mouth. Besides, his hands were tied and his ankles were handcuffed. The cruel couple then locked him in a tiny cabinet that they called “the cubby.”
Gabriel hinted his abusive life to his teacher, Jennifer Garcia. He asked her, “Is it normal for moms to hit their kids?” according to Mirror Online. His shocked teacher persuaded him to speak out. As a result, the helpless child asked her if it was normal to bleed and to be beaten with a belt buckle.
The child’s questions motivated Gracia to contact the authorities. She immediately alerted the Los Angeles County child abuse hotline and the case was taken up by the authorities. Social workers visited the boy’s house on several occasions to ensure his welfare. However, the authorities never found anything that raised any suspicion in them. They concluded he was safe and closed the case, according to The Atlantic.
No child should suffer the way #GabrielFernandez did. If you see any signs of abuse, or if someone mentions it to you, please take it serious & take action! 🖤🙏🏻 pic.twitter.com/5umBVVGugB— Amber (@amberlaynedee) October 15, 2020
In reality, Gabriel’s life had only become worse. His merciless mother and her boyfriend tortured him in unimaginable ways. He was beaten with a belt, starved, forced to eat cat litter, and even burned with cigarettes. His cries for help were not heard and the poor boy continued to suffer.
The details of his abuse, that came to light after his death, were devastating to everyone, especially the ones who knew him. His teacher, Garcia found a note on his desk after his death. It stated, “I love you mom and Gabriel is a good boy.”
Watching the series ‘The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez ‘ on Netflix, heartbreaking viewing.
Palmdale abuse case: Uncle breaks silence nearly 7 years after Gabriel Fernandez’s death https://t.co/eR9XbVXtzL via @abc7newsbayarea— 𝓔𝓵𝓲𝔃𝓪𝓫𝓮𝓽𝓱 𝓛𝓲𝓵𝓵𝔂 (@ChitkwesuManetu) October 20, 2020
Gabriel’s horrific death inspired the making of a Netflix docu-series, The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez in early 2020. It showed how the system failed to save him from the hands of his abusers and eventually allowed his murder.