The California parents of a 4-year-old boy they claimed drowned have been charged with murdering and torturing him.
Jose Maria Cuatro Jr., 27, and Ursula Elaine Juarez, 25, were arrested last week and appeared Monday in a Lancaster courtroom, where their arraignments were postponed to Nov. 6.
Each faces one count of murder and torture in the boy's July death. Bail was set at $3 million each. The father is also charged with one count of assault on a child resulting in death. His mother faces an additional charge of child abuse resulting in death.
Little Noah, with chestnut eyes and curly brown hair, was no stranger to Los Angeles County's Department of Children and Family Services. He had been bouncing around the foster care system since he was a baby, according to the Los Angeles Times.
His parents had reported their son drowned in a community pool, but medical examiners ruled his death was inconsistent with drowning and an investigation was opened by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
In August, the child's great-grandmother filed a multimillion-dollar damages claim against the county, saying Noah perished despite "countless reports of abuse" to child welfare workers.
The child services department issued a statement saying, "We cannot comment on any pending claim, litigation or lawsuit involving the department at this time."
As a baby, Noah was placed in foster care and then in the custody of Eva Hernandez, his great-grandmother, the Times reported. Two years later, the boy went back-and-forth between foster care and his great-grandmother as allegations of medical neglect were made against his mother.
Noah was returned to his parents in 2018, the paper said. This May, more neglect accusations were made and the children's services department opened an investigation. On May 15, a social worker sought a court order to remove Noah after receiving an allegation of sexual abuse involving Noah. The department later updated that request, asking for a 30-day continuance to further investigate.
Noah died two weeks after he was last seen by child welfare workers. A county report issued last month cleared the children's services agency of responsibility in the case.