MA Officials Say The Death Of A Fall River Teen A “Multi-System Failure”

FALL RIVER, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — The Office of the Child Advocate (OCA) reported that public agencies failed to protect 14-year-old David Almond from an abusive and neglectful home.

“We had — I hate to use the term — but the perfect storm for a family who wanted to hide themselves,” Maria Mossaides, the director of the Office of the Child Advocate told the Boston Globe. “That does not excuse the poor decision-making that happened. . . . Every single safeguard failed David.”

David Almond and his triplet brothers were each living with Autism Spectrum Disorder and were taken care for under the New York Office of Children and Families (OCFS) from 2013 to 2016.

In 2016, the three brothers were returned to their father's custody.

John Almond took the children to live with his girlfriend Jaclyn Coleman and his mother; where they lived in a small one-bedroom apartment in Fall River.

By October 2017, the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF) removed the triplets and a younger half-sibling from the home as the they were investigating the home for substance abuse and child neglect.

The boys then lived in a group home in Massachusetts until the start of the pandemic, in early 2020, when the boys were returned to their father in the same home and enrolled in Fall River Public School’s remote learning.

In October 2020, the 14-year-old was found dead in a Green Street home, 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.

The state's report placed blame on the Fall River School Department for not giving David and his brothers free and appropriate public education for their special needs.

Also, if they had been in school, the OCA said it would have been clear that they were being starved to death.

However, the complexities of the COVID-19 pandemic made it so remote learning was the only option.

“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.”

The OCA's 107-page report on David's death showed how complicated the situation was; he was described in the report as "the 'mayor' of his former school."

In Quincy, Gov. Charlie Baker addressed reporters about the incident on Wednesday.

“It’s very clear from reading that report that David Almond’s life — the loss of his life was preventable,” Baker said. “There was a series of systemic breakdowns over a long period of time.”

The office has determined that there need to be changes made so this does not happen again.

Prosecutors have charge the children’s father and his girlfriend with second degree murder and abuse and neglect of a disabled person.

WBZ NewsRadio's Karyn Regal (@KarynRegal) reports:

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Written by Edyn Jensen

(Photo: Fall River Police)

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