LOS ANGELES (AP) - The discovery of a 5-year-old boy so badly beaten and burned investigators called his treatment torture has sent police searching for his mother and her friend.
Starkeisha Brown, 24, and Krystal Matthews, 19, who live together in a South Los Angeles residence, have not been seen since Brown's biological son was found abandoned, police said.
"I've never seen anyone with these kinds of injuries who has lived," Assistant Chief James McDonnell said at a Friday news conference. "This kid must have a tremendous will to live, to be
able to still hang on despite what he's been through."
The child was taken to a hospital Monday with multiple injuries amounting to "unbearable physical and psychological abuse," including cigarette burns to his body and a broken tooth with a nerve exposed, McDonnell said.
The boy's exact medical condition remains guarded.
Police began investigating Brown and Matthews when they were
called in for a meeting with social workers at the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services.
The two brought in a healthy child of a mutual friend and tried to pass him off as the victim, McDonnell said. During the meeting, a stranger with no connection to the suspects found the boy abandoned and notified police.
Detectives said the suspects routinely denied the child food and water and forced him to sit in his own urine.
"The child also was forced to fully place his small hands on a hot stove," McDonnell said. "Because of the burns and scar tissue he can't fully open his hands."
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)