|About Anthony Avalos
|June 21, 2018 Lancaster, California
|Victor Avalos, Heather Maxine Barron
|El Dorado Elementary School
Netflix’s The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez sheds light on the failure of the system that was set up to protect children from abuse. Eight-year-old Gabriel Fernandez’s 2013 death has been referenced in similar cases recently, including that of Anthony Avalos. He too died in 2018, under circumstances similar to Fernandez. With the Netflix docuseries, Avalos’ story has once again been explored, and Netflix viewers want to know if he got justice. Our Anthony Avalos wiki details another tragic story of child abuse.
Anthony Avalos Lived in California, Too
Anthony Avalos (born 2008) was the son of Heather Maxine Barron (born September 29, 1989) and Victor Avalos. They weren’t together at the time of Anthony’s death, and Heather had other children from other relationships as well.
Barron and Avalos were reportedly teenagers when Anthony was born. After his birth, Avalos had moved to Mexico while Barron raised Anthony and her other kids. She reportedly had a part-time job at Subway and lived off monthly welfare payments.
Gabriel Fernandez died in 2013 in Palmdale, California. Not far, barely a 15-minute drive, from Fernandez was Avalos, who lived with his mother and half-siblings in Lancaster in Antelope Valley.
Anthony Avalos attended El Dorado Elementary School in Lancaster before he died. He was described as the fastest runner in his grade and was on the honor roll. His teacher said he was quite mature for his age.
This will forever be one of your greatest achievements. You worked so hard to get this recognition. I still remember how…
He loved football and fishing. To earn fishing trips from his uncle, Anthony worked hard in school, was on his best behavior, and helped teachers in class.
He was previously in another school, where teachers and the principal had raised concerns about how Barron was treating Anthony and his siblings at home. At that point, Barron cut off ties with family and educators who alleged abuse, and transferred Anthony to El Dorado.
The Gabriel Fernandez incident still traumatizes residents of both places. And Anthony’s eerily similar death was another shockwave to people in that area.
Avalos Was Abused and Molested before His Death
Anthony Avalos had a horrifying childhood growing up in Heather Barron’s home, even before Kareem Leiva came into the picture. DCFS records indicate that Anthony had been sexually molested by his maternal grandfather when he was four years old. Shockingly, the case was closed without much action when Barron promised to keep Anthony away from the abuser.
However, Barron reportedly cruelly abused Anthony herself. According to a relative, Anthony’s abuse began when he was six. Often, Barron beat him and locked him in a room and starved him. It was revealed that she sometimes left the kids in the care of the same grandfather who molested Anthony and the other kids.
Heather’s brother and Anthony’s uncle, David Barron, would introduce Heather to his coworker from a Santa Clarita shipping facility, Kareem Ernesto Leiva (born December 23, 1985), in 2015. They went on to have a child together, who was Heather’s seventh child. Leiva had a history of gang violence and soon became abusive to Heather and her children.
According to reports, Leiva heard Heather suggest to DCFS workers that Anthony was gay. From that moment, his violent abuse towards Anthony in particular escalated.
Various people had reported that Heather and Leiva were abusing the children in their care. Reports about Anthony’s abuse in 2015 were filed, but they were dropped when the other kids retracted or changed their testimonies after they were likely threatened to do so.
Anthony’s aunt and grandmother tried to gain custody of the kids when Anthony told them about the abuse. However, the DCFS investigators didn’t do a thorough follow-up of the complaints. Heather would get the benefit of the doubt for showing signs of improving, like going to parenting or domestic violence programs.
Victor Avalos, back in Mexico, had tried to get custody of Anthony to no avail. He had made repeated requests to Heather to release the child to his care, but she refused. He detailed heartbreaking conversations he had with Anthony over Skype where the child confessed he wanted to get away from that place.
Anthony Avalos Died in 2018
Less than a month after Pearl Fernandez and Isauro Aguirre were sentenced for Gabriel Fernandez’s death, another similar incident occurred in the same town. Heather Barron called 911 on June 20, 2018 and reported that Anthony had fallen.
However, the evidence of prolonged physical abuse to Anthony was obvious to emergency responders. When he was taken to the hospital, it was determined that Anthony suffered fatal internal bleeding in his skull from repeatedly being dropped on his head.
His body was also marred by bruises and burns similar to that of Gabriel. He was whipped by a belt or looped cord and hot sauce was poured in his mouth and face.
Anthony Avalos died on June 21, 2018, the morning after he was taken to the hospital. He was only 10 years old.
Authorities determined Leiva was the one who dropped Anthony on his head, which proved to be the fatal assault. He allegedly would force the other children to beat Anthony as well. Reports say that Anthony suffered a week of continuous abuse before he died.
Where Are Heather Barron and Kareem Leiva?
Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Jon Hatami, who had prosecuted Pearl Fernandez and Isauro Aguirre, was shocked to learn about Avalos’ case. Law enforcement, residents of the town, and publications immediately saw the similarities between Gabriel and Anthony.
Not only were both children tortured to death by their own mothers and mothers’ boyfriends, they were apparently singled out from the rest of their siblings for alleged homophobic motives. David Barron claimed that Leiva had a history of homophobia and believed that Anthony was gay, which made him lash out against the boy violently.
The Department of Children and Family Services had received numerous complaints and reports of abuse towards Anthony. Teachers and employees at Anthony’s school and other relatives had filed complaints. Yet somehow Anthony was not taken away from his abusers.
It took Anthony’s untimely death for Barron and Leiva to be arrested. They were booked on June 28 and 29 in 2018 and held without bail.
As of December 2019, Barron is in Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood. Leiva is in Los Angeles Men’s Central Jail as of October 2019.
Charged with felonies, they were indicted on torture and murder charges, along with the special circumstance of murder involving the infliction of torture. Both have pleaded not guilty.
Their sentences and exact charges haven’t been determined yet, but prosecutors are reportedly seeking the death penalty for both of them. Their next court hearing is scheduled for March 5, 2020.
Those who are still reeling from Gabriel’s tragedy are also slamming the lack of action by DCFS despite numerous reports of abuse on Anthony. Four case workers who neglected Gabriel’s case were fired and tried for Gabriel’s death.
Given the proximity of both families, several social workers who were handling Gabriel’s case were also handling Anthony’s. So far, no action has been taken against the social workers who neglected to act on behalf of Anthony.
As soon as Avalos’ case was publicized, the DCFS was quick to deny the similarities between Gabriel’s case and Anthony’s. However, public reaction has been the same.
Meanwhile, Anthony’s father Victor Avalos and other relatives sued the county for $50.0 million, claiming that case workers mishandled his case.
David Barron and his wife had sought custody of Anthony’s siblings. But they were denied the same. Reports at that time stated seven of Anthony’s siblings were placed in other homes where they were given childcare services like therapy to cope with the abuse and Anthony’s death.