DA Investigating Deaths of 5 Massachusetts Infants

The Essex District Attorney's Office is investigating the recent deaths of five Massachusetts infants, three of whom were involved with the state's child welfare agency.

The three deaths involving the Department of Children and Families happened in Lawrence, Haverhill and Methuen. Sources told NBC10 Boston's Investigators that two of the deaths do not appear to be tied to abuse or neglect but because they happened within such a short time span, they're all being re-examined.

The district attorney's office announced Wednesday that they were investigating the death of a 15-month-old girl named Ayana in Lawrence over the weekend.

"They said that she passed away and I was in shock," said Jeremy Barrientos, Ayana's biological father.

Barrientos said that he was only told his daughter had a fever a few days before she passed away.

The district attorney's office said Thursday that they are also investigating the deaths of a 4-week-old boy in Haverhill on April 18 and a 3-month-old boy in Methuen on April 25.

They said they are still awaiting rulings from the chief medical examiner's office on the cause and manner of death of all three infants.

"As best as we can determine pending the final medical examiner’s report, the infant in Haverhill, who was not in the custody of DCF, was living with their biological parent in a shelter and the death appears to be a result of co-sleeping," Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said. "The death of the infant in a foster home in Methuen appears to be the result of a medical condition. There is an active and ongoing investigation into the recent death of a child living in a foster home in Lawrence and it is too soon to determine the cause of death."

The district attorney's office said they are also investigating the deaths of at least two other babies who had no involvement with DCF. They did not release any details on those deaths.

Lawrence police said they received a call shortly before 9 a.m. Sunday from a man reporting that his foster child was unresponsive.

The child was taken to Lawrence General Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Investigators said the child did not show any obvious signs of trauma.

"How are you going to take care of someone else's kid and let them die?" Barrientos said.

Authorities said the girl's foster father was at the hospital. It is unclear how long the baby had lived at the home.

Officials said the cause and manner of death would be determined by the chief medical examiner's office. An autopsy is being performed, but could take several weeks to complete.

The home on the corner of Howard Street and Allston Street in Lawrence is now at the center of the ongoing investigation. Family and friends of the baby girl's biological mother said Wednesday that they are desperate for answers.

"There are no words to describe the feeling," said Kimberly Martinez, a friend of the child's mother.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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