(CBS) – The mother of the 4-year-old found dead in a burning blanket in West Englewood is now charged with concealing his death.
Prosecutors say Manuel Aguilar’s short life was filled with abuse. He had even been taken away from his mother by state child welfare officials but returned.
CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports.
Guilt, regret and sorrow. The woman who lived below little Manuel and his family is dealing with all that, after learning about the preschooler’s death and alleged abuse beforehand.
“I didn’t know it was that bad. I didn’t know,” the neighbor, whose first name is Rocky, says. “He was very bright and smart. He had the prettiest smile. I got kind of attached to him.”
Wednesday, Manuel’s body was found inside a burning blanket at this home. His 27-year-old mother, Alyssa Garcia; her 17-year-old live-in boyfriend and his 19-year-old brother, Christian Camarena, are now charged with taking the boy’s already dead body there and setting it on fire.
In court, prosecutors alleged a pattern of abuse. They say Garcia kept Manuel locked in back room, which smelled of urine and feces. He was kept naked, they say, and not fed. When firefighters found the child, they thought he was a baby.
“He would literally come knock on my door and tell me he was hungry,” the neighbor said.
Manuel and three siblings were removed from Garcia’s care in 2012 for neglect. A Department of Children and Family Services spokesperson says all were returned last year, when she met DCFS’s parenting terms.
In February, agency officials went back to investigate a new neglect charge. It was ruled unfounded and Manuel was left in Garcia’s care.
Prosecutors say Garcia told police she didn’t call 9-1-1 when she found Manuel unresponsive, because she didn’t want DCFS to take her kids away again.
Several neighbors say Garcia often left her young children home alone.