BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — The Office of the Child Advocate has released a scathing new report on the death of a Fall River teenager who was found neglected and abused in his home last year.
The report places much of the blame on the local and state agencies who were supposed to look after him.
Fall River Police found 14-year-old David Almond dead in a Green Street home in October of 2020. David, who lived with autism and developmental disabilities, weighed about 80 pounds, was emaciated, and was covered in feces, cuts and bruises. Two other children, including David's triplet brother Michael, were also found in the home.
Police say David and Michael were starved by their father John Almond and his girlfriend Jaclyn Marie Coleman, who gained custody of the boys as the COVID-19 pandemic began. They enrolled them in Fall River Public School's remote learning.
"The parents were purposely logging on, we never had eyes on," said Matthew Malone, Superintendent of Fall River Schools, to WBZ-TV. "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."
The Office of the Child Advocate's report, though, says that the Fall River School Department and Department of Children and Families 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. "I failed my responsibility because this happened under my watch, so I’m responsible. 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."
Fall River Schools have implemented new changes to help prevent further incidents, including requiring remote learning students to turn their cameras on, training staff for signs of neglect and abuse, and forming a crisis team to identify at-risk students.
John Almond and Jaclyn Marie Coleman were recently indicted on charges of second degree murder and abuse and neglect of a disabled person.
WBZ's Jim MacKay (@JimMackayOnAir) reports