Stories of abuse always trigger feelings of anger and rage, but when little kids are involved, it’s even harder for us to understand how can certain people be so vicious and hurt someone so innocent.
The death 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez suffered is not only tragic, but chilling. He was tortured to the extent that is difficult to be even read about.
It was on May 22, 2013 when the emergency center received a call about a boy that was said to stop breathing. It was Gabriel’s mother who made that call.
The sight that the paramedics stumbled upon at the family’s home was gruesome. The poor boy’s body was naked and covered in bruises. Many of his teeth were missing and he had broken ribs and fractures in the head.
Unfortunately, it was too late for him to be saved, and Gabriel passed away two days after the chilling call was made.
Nurse Alison, who works at the hospital where the boy was admitted told ABC7, “There were abrasions. There were open wounds. There was bruising. There was swelling. There was marks on the legs. There was skin missing off the top of the neck, so there were multiple injuries on Gabriel…head to toe.”
The story behind this tragic event raised the alarm about the way social services and authorities fail to step in for victims of abuse. The whole nation was in disbelief and everyone agreed that if something was done in time, Gabriel would still be alive.
During the period of 2003 and 2012, more than 60 reports about torture and abuse were filed against his mother and her boyfriend, Isauro Aguirre.
The mistreatment he was getting from those who were supposed to love him and take care of him was first noticed by Gabriel’s first grade teacher. She contacted the authorities multiple times reporting that the boy was coming to school with black eyes, scars, cracked lips and injured hands.
Unfortunately, the case was never fully investigated. Police did visit Gabriel’s mother in one occasion but she told them he moved places and was living with his grandmother in Texas, and it looked like they weren’t willing to ask for any prove or get into details.
Despite the numerous reports against this mother from hell, nothing was done. She wasn’t arrested or taken to the station.
After the news of Gabriel’s death, the police received massive criticism from the wide public and four social workers were fired from their job, which they obviously weren’t doing properly. But a life was already lost, and people were outraged.
“The red flags were all over the place. They were ignored. It is just inexplicable to me,” said Los Angeles county Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky.
Gabriel’s mother, Pearl Fernandez, 34, and her boyfriend Isauro Aguirre, 37, were arrested.
During the trial against the cruel killers, many of the horrific things they did to the poor boy were revealed. The jury and the judge cried.
Apparently, the reason behind their cruel behavior against Gabriel was because they though he was gay.
The boy’s older sister said how they mocked him and forced him to wear dresses and play with dolls.
“This wasn’t about drugs. This wasn’t about mental health issues,” Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Hatami said. “Gabriel was abused “because [Aguirre] didn’t like him … he believed Gabriel was gay and to him, that was a bad thing … he did it out of hatred of a little boy.”
Gabriel’s brother, Ezequiel, 16, also testified of the abuse his little brother suffered during the years.
The boy was ridiculed on a daily basis and was forced to eat old cat food. He was often locked in a cabinet without any access to food or water. What’s most, his mother and her boyfriend found the torture funny and amusing.
Gabriel’s first-year teacher, Jennifer Garcia, appeared at court and cried while speaking about the boy.
“I find comfort in believing he is now at peace,” she said, adding: “And I know that unlike him, his abusers will never have peace. They will have a lifetime of suffering to endure, and I know I’m not alone in hoping they experience the same abuse in their lifetime and worse.”
The evil mother said how she was sorry and wished her son was alive. But it was way too late for her to feel like that, as she was the reason the boy suffered such tragic death.
After a long trial, the verdict was finally there and everyone was in anticipation of hearing it.
Pearl Fernandez was sentenced to life imprisonment and Isauro Aguirre received the death penalty.
Justice was finally served. The two didn’t get anything less than what they deserved.
Gabriel’s family is now running a Facebook page where they openly speak of everything the boy suffered. They hope authorities won’t ever let another child suffer the way Gabriel did.
They say that before the torture took place, Gabriel was a happy and vibrant boy everyone loved.
As a result of Gabriel’s death, the LA police introduced major changes in the way reports of abuse are treated. Social workers get more practical work in order to become even more competent in solving such cases.
Rest in peace little one.