DCF Officials Could Have Saved Girl Found Dead In Truck Along I-95

Jorge Barahona's truck was discovered at about 5:30 a.m. Monday morning. It was more than 14 hours before police discovered the corpse of a young girl, wrapped in plastic in the back of the truck. As we're learning now, that wasn't the first time authorities missed something in this case, and had someone removed the girl from her home months -- or even days ago -- a tragedy could have been prevented.

In a hearing yesterday afternoon in Miami, Judge Cindy Liederman reportedly lambasted DCF officials for missing the warning signs in a case that ultimately led a child's death.

Both Barahona and his adopted son, Victor, were found unconscious in the truck. The boy, now in intensive care with a deteriorating condition, was covered in a toxic chemical, and Barahona was covered in gasoline. Police say the man told them he gave the boy sleeping pills and planned on setting himself on fire.

The DCF had received several reports of abuse in the Barahona household, the most recent of which came just three days before the girl was found dead in the truck. In June, someone reported that the girl had been acting out, stealing food, and seemed extremely hungry and malnourished. On February 10, DCF received a report from a teacher who claimed the children were being bound by their hands and feet and forced to stand in a bathtub.

That day, a DCF investigator interviewed Carmen Barahona, Jorge's wife, and she said her husband had left and taken the children. Authorities told Judge Liederman they now believe Carmen was lying and "secreting" the children.

"So we don't do investigations on weekends?" an incredulous Liederman reportedly asked in court.

At the end of the hearing, the judge ruled that the mother was barred from any contact with the three surviving children. Police say they plan to arrest Jorge Barahona on aggravated child abuse, and that he would likely face murder charges soon.

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Michael J. Mooney