Kareem Leiva, the live-in boyfriend of Heather Barron, was charged with murder in the death of her 10-year-old son, Anthony Avalos, who had recently come out as gay.
Avalos was found dead in his home in the northern L.A. suburb of Lancaster last week, covered with cigarette burns. According to the Department of Children and Family Services, the child had suffered years of abuse.
Brandon Nichols, deputy director of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, revealed in an interview Monday that Anthony “said he liked boys” but declined to provide more details, including whom the boy told and when.
NBC News reports: ‘At a news conference on Wednesday, Sheriff Jim McDonnell said Barron’s boyfriend, Kareem Leiva, 32, had been arrested on murder charges and was being held on $2 million bail. McDonnell said that while being interviewed, “Leiva made statements that led detectives to arrest him for the murder of Anthony Avalos.”’
Regarding motives, McDonnell said that homophobia “has not come up in our investigation as a motivation at this time.” The L.A. Times had reported that homophobia was part of the investigation.
NBC News adds: ‘However, Avalos’ uncle David Barron, the brother of Heather Barron and a co-worker of Leiva’s, told NBC News that Leiva has a history of homophobia. He recalled a number of times when Leiva said he was “uncomfortable just being around” gay men. Caseworkers reportedly documented that Leiva was a member of MS-13, the criminal gang frequently mentioned by President Donald Trump during his immigration speeches. At least one branch of the gang, located in El Salvador, reportedly kills members found to be gay.’
Watch a news report on Leiva’s arrest: