2 kids dead, 2 injured after apparent child abuse 'attack' in Lancaster; father detained

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Monday, October 30, 2023
2 children dead, 2 hospitalized after child abuse call in Lancaster
The father of the four children has been detained as a "person of interest."

LANCASTER, Calif. (KABC) -- Two children are dead and two are recovering from injuries after a possible child abuse "attack" at an apartment complex in Lancaster.

The biological father of the four children was being detained as a "person of interest."

UPDATE: Prospero Serna was arrested on Monday. For our latest coverage, please see new story here.

The grim discovery was made after the mother of the victims called 911 for help in the 1800 block of East Avenue J-2 shortly before midnight Saturday, just west of 20th Street East, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

"The call stated children were being harmed at the location," a news release said. Upon arrival, the deputies contacted a woman, conducted a search and found four children in one bedroom "suffering from lacerations to their bodies," the sheriff's statement said.

The victims, all under the age of 10, were transported to a hospital, authorities said. Two of them were pronounced dead at the facility, and the other two were listed in stable condition with injuries that were not life-threatening.

Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies took a man into custody after responding to a report of child abuse in Lancaster on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2023.
Don Luis Meza

A man described as a person of interest was detained at the scene. He was later identified as Prospero Serna, a resident of San Bernardino County who is the biological father of all four children.

News video showed a man being taken into custody after he was pinned to the ground by two sheriff's deputies. A struggle ensued before two other deputies came over to assist.

Homicide investigators responded to the location and assumed control of the investigation.

"We don't know where exactly the attack occurred, but they were all found in one bedroom," said Lt. Daniel Vizcarra with the Sheriff's Department.

"It's extremely difficult," he added. "This is traumatizing for everybody who's involved. All the deputies who responded, all the parties involved, the investigators, everyone."

The county Department of Children and Family Services declined to say if the family has been investigated for possible child abuse in the past.

"As a workforce dedicated to the safety and well-being of Los Angeles County's children and families, we are deeply disturbed and saddened to learn of the deaths of two young children in the City of Lancaster and injuries sustained by two others as reported by" the Sheriff's Department, DCFS said in a statement.

The agency noted that state law "protects the confidentiality of records for all children and families who may have come to the attention of child protective services and prohibits confirming or commenting on whether a child or family has been involved with the department."

Anyone with information about the incident is urged to call the sheriff's Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500.