Lancaster abuse case: Emotional funeral honors 10-year-old Anthony Avalos

LANCASTER, Calif. (KABC) -- An emotional viewing, memorial and funeral service took place Friday for Anthony Avalos, the 10-year-old boy who was allegedly tortured and murdered by his mother and her boyfriend.

Anthony's service was held at Saint Junipero Serra Parish in Quartz Hill. Following the viewing and mass, Anthony's casket was placed on a hearse and taken to Good Shepherd Cemetery in Lancaster.

MORE: Lancaster boy allegedly tortured, abused for at least 5 days before death
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Prosecutors say 10-year-old Anthony Avalos of Lancaster suffered at least five days of sustained torture before his death on June 21, according to new court papers.

Friends, loved ones and even complete strangers were in attendance, with hugs and tears all around. Many wore attire adorned with superhero emblems, as Anthony was a big fan of superheroes.

"I just wanted to show my respects to everyone - to the family and to him," Maggie Dowdy said.

Dowdy did not know Anthony, but she said she just wanted to come and show her support.

"But I have family and grandchildren of my own, and I would hate for anybody to do anything like that to them, and we have to stand behind this child and know that people do love him," Dowdy said.

Maria Barron, Anthony's aunt, was in tears and thanked the community members for coming together to show her nephew love and support.

Anthony died on June 21.

His mother, Heather Barron, and her boyfriend, Kareem Leiva, are both charged in his murder. They are behind bars and expected to be arraigned next month.

MORE: Lancaster mother, boyfriend charged with murdering her 10-year-old son
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A mother and her boyfriend are each facing murder charges following the death of the woman's 10-year-old son in Lancaster last week.

Prosecutors said Anthony suffered at least five days of sustained torture before his death.

According to court papers, the torture included slamming the boy onto the bedroom floor, whipping him with a belt and cord, pouring hot sauce into his mouth and forbidding him to use the bathroom. He was also allegedly forced to kneel on rice for long periods of time and forced to kneel or stand in a corner for several hours.

Authorities said Anthony's sexuality may have been a motivating factor in his death.

Family members are also demanding a criminal investigation into social workers with the Department of Children and Family Services who oversaw the referrals made against Anthony's mother and her boyfriend.

More than a dozen referrals were made regarding physical, emotional and sexual abuse of Anthony since 2013.

"We want these case workers and anyone involved prosecuted, criminally charged and brought to justice," activist Naji Alli said.
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