By Marion V. Ali
New details surrounding the death of an 11 month-old baby girl who died from multiple skull fractures caused by blunt force injuries last week, reveal that she was a victim of child abuse.
The child, Mia Lopez, died at her home at 8694 Curl Thompson Street at around 7:30 a.m. last Wednesday, while at home with her mother, Karen Perez, 21, now in police custody pending investigations.
In her initial report to the police, Perez said she was taking care of the baby, who began to cry and started to gasp for breath. Shortly after, she stopped moving. But in a conversation with the media, Lopez claimed the baby had fallen down the front steps to the house and hit her head almost a week earlier.
Mia died as a result of “severe cerebral edema due to multiple skull fractures due to blunt force trauma to the head.”a medical report said.
The Reporter has confirmed with Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Human Development and Social Transformation, Judith Alpuche, that in 2014 the Department of Human Services had received reports of child abuse involving Lopez’ children, Mia and an older sister who is now two years old.
The department had applied to the court and got approval to remove the children from the care of the parents for a six-month period, while the department worked on honing their parenting skills. Alpuche said that when the six-month period was about to expire, the department applied to the court to keep the children for another six months, because the social worker assigned to their case was not convinced the parents had made any progress toward becoming better at parenting.
The magistrate denied the department an extension on custodial rights. The department then applied for a supervision order, which grants parents custody of the children under certain conditions. These include impromptu visits by the social worker to the home, in order to monitor the children’s well-being. That application was also denied.
Alpuche said that even though Perez and her husband changed residence often, the department still tried to keep tabs on the children out of concern for them.
A resident of Curl Thompson Street told this newspaper that Perez and her husband had recently moved into the area and was not aware that other children were living in the home, because she only saw the two-year old child.
Karen Perez also gave birth to another baby girl a month ago. Both surviving children have been placed in foster care since baby Mia’s death.
Mia was laid to rest on Monday at the Ladyville Cemetery.