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Report: Fall River Schools, DCF Could Have Done More To Prevent Teen's Death

BOSTON (CBS) – The state released a scathing report Tuesday night on the horrific death of a teenager in Fall River. Neglected and abused, 14-year-old David Almond died in his father's custody.

The report places much blame on local and state agencies that should have protected him including the Fall River School Department.

When the 14-year-old died in October of 2020, he weighed about 80 pounds. Fall River Police found him in a Green Street home emaciated, covered in feces, bruises and cuts.

"The house of horrors that was allowed to happen and what these two people, who are human beings, were allowed to do to young kids," said Matthew Malone, Superintendent of Fall River Schools.

John Michael Almond
John Michael Almond and Jaclyn Marie Coleman (WBZ-TV)

Living with autism and developmental disabilities, David and his triplet brother, police say were starved by their father John Michael Almond and his girlfriend Jaclyn Marie Coleman. The pair got custody of the boys just as the COVID-19 pandemic started and enrolled them in Fall River Public School's remote learning.

"The parents were purposely logging on, we never had eyes on," Malone said. "They lied to us. We made contact every week and they gave us nothing but lies and deceit, and stories. Foolishly because we're humans and we want the best, we believed them."

A new report by the Office of the Child Advocate says the school department and Department of Children and Families, who were also involved with the family, both could have done more to protect the children.

"It is tough to read, you never want to accept that we could have done more, but we could have done more," Malone said.

Fall River Almond
Green Street home in Fall River where David Almond lived (WBZ-TV)

Fall River has already implemented changes in protocol including students must now have their cameras on for remote learning, a crisis team has been created to identify at-risk students, and training for all staff for signs of abuse and neglect.

"I failed my responsibility because this happened under my watch, so I'm responsible," Malone said. "This kid's dead I got to live with that. But I can also make sure that we're doing more and more, making sure that we got eyes on, that we're caring 24/7/365."

A third brother was not living in the home. Recently prosecutors indicted the children's father and his girlfriend, charging them with second degree murder and abuse and neglect of a disabled person.

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