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Homicide charges brought against adoptive parents in death of 5-year-old boy

Charges brought against parents in death of 5-year-old boy
Charges brought against parents in death of 5-year-old boy 02:41

DELMONT, Pa. (KDKA) — Two parents are facing several charges in the death of their 5-year-old adopted son.  

Landon Maloberti died in February. On Friday, Westmoreland District Attorney Nicole Ziccarelli said she is pursuing charges after an investigation. The boy faced multiple episodes of abuse in his short life, officials said. 

The Delmont police chief said this was some of the worst incidents he's ever seen. Lauren Maloberti, 34, and 33-year-old Jacob Maloberti face homicide charges, among others.  

According to the criminal complaint, one word used by a doctor who saw the injuries to Landon was torture. 

According to investigators, police were called by a nurse at AHN Hempfield on Jan. 30 for injuries consistent with abuse. Landon's injuries included a brain bleed and multiple bruises. He was in critical condition.  

"I'm shocked. I don't know them personally, but what I've seen of them they never bothered anyone in the neighborhood," neighbor Linda Wahl said Friday.  

Landon was rushed to UPMC Children's Hospital in Lawrenceville. Doctors there found his injuries to be consistent with child abuse.

"His injuries caused substantial pain at the time they were inflicted, with impairment of function including the inability to stand, inability to eat or drink, and loss of consciousness," Ziccarelli said.  

On Feb. 7, Landon died from his injuries. His obituary says he loved playing with monster trucks and cars, singing country music, and eating pickles. 

Investigators spoke to Jacob and Lauren several times about what happened. Lauren changed her story multiple times — from falls to COVID as well as behavioral issues. Jacob told officers Landon was sick. Officials learned from Lauren's co-workers she "hated" Landon. 

"Tragically, Landon in the course of his short 5-year life suffered trauma and abuse," Ziccarelli said.  

The couple has five other children. One of them told investigators Lauren would spank Landon and get angry while spanking him. Text messages allegedly showed disdain for Landon from the parents. One included Lauren allegedly saying, "She was going to kill him." 

The district attorney would not say where the other five children are now, but she said they are safe. She also would not say if more should have been done to prevent Landon from being adopted by the Malobertis.   

Court papers said Jacob works as a corrections officer at SCI Fayette. The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections would not comment on the matter with it being an ongoing investigation.  

Both Lauren and Jacob are in the Westmoreland County Prison. They had their bail denied and will be back in court in August. 

Landon's biological grandmother, Kathie Sheffler, says she is glad he's getting justice. 

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