Social workers left child in home where police said father beat him to death

David Vasquez

LA County Sheriff's Department

David Vasquez, 32, was charged with the murder of his 21-month-old son in Baldwin Park on Wednesday, June 12, 2013. County social workers had visited their home previously.

Los Angeles Sheriff’s homicide detectives Wednesday arrested a man for murder in the death of his 21-month-old son in Baldwin Park.

Sheriff’s officials say they arrested David Vasquez, 32, after determining he was responsible for the death of his son Joshua Vasquez Wednesday afternoon. The father is being held in lieu of $1 million bail.

Officials did not release details surrounding Joshua’s death. The San Gabriel Valley Tribune quoted a detective as saying the father had beaten him. “The child had injuries to his torso…and the head,” said Detective Eddie Brown. The paper said the father had taken his son to Citrus Valley Medical Center, where the boy died.

A Sheriff’s Department statement said county social workers had visited the home previously.

“Detectives are aware of one prior call for service that occurred approximately one year ago. The then-infant boy sustained a leg injury that was investigated by the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services.”

A spokesman for DCFS was unavailable for comment Thursday.

In recent weeks, the department has come under increased scrutiny over its handling abuse allegations. DCFS social workers and police appear to have received repeated reports of abuse involving Gabriel Fernandez of Palmdale before his death last month.

Prosecutors have charged his mother and her boyfriend with murder. Fernandez, who suffered a skull fracture and burns to his body, was 8 years old.

LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas also pointed to the deaths of a six-year-old boy and two-year-old girl in recent years as evidence of problems at the department. He’s called for the creation of a blue ribbon panel to examine the DCFS.

“These tragic incidents are not new to the Board of Supervisors,” he said.

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