The stepfather of a 10-year-old boy who came out as gay before his death has been arrested on suspicion of murder.
The little boy, Anthony Avalos, was found unresponsive at his home in Lancaster, California, last Wednesday and died the next day.
His stepfather Kareem Leiva, 32, was arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of murder.
Sheriff Jim McDonnell said in a press conference: “I can tell you that what the investigators learned led them to believe they could file for charges of murder, which he is going to be booked on.”
Levia will be on a £1.5million ($2million) bond.
Authorities revealed Anthony came out as gay to his family just weeks before his death.
Brandon Nichols, deputy director of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services told the Los Angeles Times that Anthony told his family that “he liked boys” before he died.
DCFS director, Bobby Cagle told ABC 7 News that his department is investigating allegations that Anthony was abused because of his sexuality.
He said: “One of the things that we have heard is that there may have been a motivation on the part of the man in the household regarding to the sexuality of the child, and so we’re looking into that in a very deep way.”
It was initially reported that Anthony had suffered severe head injuries and had cigarette burns all over his body but police now say this wasn’t the case and that he died of abuse.
McDonnell also said homophobia has “not come up” so far in their investigation.
The other children found at the home are now in the care of the DCFS.
Anthony’s mother, Heather Barron, was also interviewed by investigators but has now been arrested or charged.
Barron called 911 at 12.15pm on Wednesday and said her son was unresponsive.
She also said his injuries came from a fall.
Since February 2013, 12 calls were made to the DCFS in relation to Anthony’s well-being, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.
The first was reportedly about Anthony, who was four at the time, being sexually abused by a grandparent that did not live with him.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the other calls included sexual, emotional, physical abuse and neglect.
Anthony’s aunt, Maria Barron, told the LA Times that she started reporting bruises and other injuries to the DCFS from 2015.
She alleged the injuries were caused by Levia and said he locked the children away in small spaces where they had to go to the toilet on the floor.