SYLMAR (CBSLA.com) — Family and friends of an 8-year-old Palmdale boy investigators say was beaten to death by his mother's boyfriend gathered Wednesday evening at an emotional memorial service in Sylmar.
Gabriel Fernandez died of suspected abuse and torture on May 24. Investigators say he had a skull fracture, several broken ribs and severe burn marks over various spots of his body.
Just before the service, his grandfather, Robert Fernandez, broke down in tears.
"It could have been a child abuse (case) but now we're talking about a homicide," he told KCAL9'S Juan Fernandez.
Gabriel's grandfather ended the service insisting laws need to be changed and more done to protect children in abusive households.
"I know that he's in paradise," Fernandez said.
The vigil was held shortly after details emerged about what social workers knew before Gabriel's death.
A 121-page filing released by DCFS shows allegations of physical and emotional abuse in the Fernandez household dating back to 2003.
In most cases, the allegations were unfounded or inconclusive.
In a report dated May 28, 2013, one of the boy's siblings appears to recount the events that occurred just before Los Angeles County Fire Department was called to the family's Palmdale residence after receiving a call about a boy who was not breathing.
"Siblings reported that he and his 12-year-old sibling were wrestling and chasing each other when (redacted) tripped, fell, and hit his left temple on a table in the bedroom," reads part of the document.
The boy's 29-year-old mother, Pearl Fernandez, and her boyfriend, 32-year-old Isauro Aguirre, have been charged in Gabriel's murder and remain in custody.
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