Emaciated, 85-pound teenage boy found in burning Deerfield Beach home

When Broward Sheriff's Office investigators found the emaciated 14-year-old boy, he weighed 85 pounds. He had also overdosed on cocaine, marijuana and a cocktail of other drugs.

His father, Darin MacDannald, 47, was charged with cruelty toward a child and infliction of physical/mental injury. The Deerfield Beach man was being held on a $7,500 bond Thursday in Broward County jail.

According to a Broward Sheriff's Office report, deputies responded to a fire Tuesday at a Deerfield Beach mobile home where the teenage boy was found. He was taken to Broward Health Coral Springs, where doctors determined he was malnourished and noted red blotches on his legs that were not caused by the fire.

Authorities are not releasing the boy's identity because of the allegations of child abuse.

His condition was unknown, but the boy remained in the hospital Thursday afternoon, Sheriff's spokeswoman Keyla Concepcion said.

The cause of the fire also remained under investigation, she said.

Upon being admitted to the hospital Tuesday, the child appeared dirty and unresponsive; his urine and blood tested positive for cocaine, marijuana, opiates and barbiturates, according to the Sheriff's report.

The boy also had a cigarette, several pills and a makeup case in his possession that contained cocaine, the Sheriff's Office said.

MacDannald told investigators that the pills the boy had acquired were prescribed to MacDannald and that he had tried to keep them away from the child.

The father did not know where the boy got the cocaine or how he got the medications he abused, the Sheriff's Office said.

Investigators found that MacDannald failed to provide his son with proper care and supervision, the report said. Broward County Judge John Hurley said the boy was "catatonic" and in "marginal health."

Dr. Marc Arel, an emergency room pediatrician at Broward Health Medical Center, has not treated the child, but said the average weight for a healthy, 14-year-old boy ranges from 115 to 120 pounds.

A drug such as cocaine is known to suppress the appetite, the doctor said. But it would take several months of "heavy, hardcore" drug use for weight loss that drastic, Arel said.

"He's lived a lot for a 14-year-old," he said.

He called the case "eye-opening."

A Florida Department of Children and Families spokeswoman said that a shelter hearing was being scheduled Friday. It is unclear whether the boy is currently in state custody.

During his first appearance court hearing Thursday, MacDannald said he lived only with his son and had been in Florida for 12 years. The boy's mother lives in Colorado, he said.

This is just the latest case of child cruelty in Florida.

On June 15, Jose Guadelupe Pena Jr., 32, of Loxahatchee Groves, was charged with aggravated child abuse, cruelty to a child and neglect causing great harm to a child. His 15-year-old son, who weighed only 94 pounds, was found covered with cuts and bruises from a recent beating and scars from belt-whippings that dated back years, according to the arrest report.

In 2011, Jorge and Carmen Barahona were charged with murder in one of the most horrific child abuse cases in South Florida. Investigators said adopted twins Nubia and Victor were repeatedly beaten and abused. Nubia's body was found in the back of a pickup truck on Interstate 95 near Boca Raton and Victor was found in the front seat, with Jorge Barahona, suffering from chemical burns.

In 2010, Roberto Fortin III, of Miami, was admitted to Miami Children's Hospital where doctors told police the boy was severely malnourished, in diapers and covered in wounds that had become infected. He weighed only 40 pounds. The boy's father, Roberto Fortin II, was charged with child neglect.

In 2008, Kelleen Murray Auguste, 38, of Port St. Lucie, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for child neglect after detectives found her missing 10-year-old son at a neighbor's house. He was severely malnourished and weighed just 35 pounds. Auguste had eight other children and was pregnant at the time of her arrest.

That same year, the Broward Sheriff's Office charged Nicklous Anderson with the death of his 10-month-old stepson Jamarian, who died in 2004. The infant weighed less than 14 pounds. His mother, Lakyna Anderson, was already serving prison time for the child's death when new evidence led to charges against her husband.

Staff Researcher Barbara Hijek contributed to this report.

 

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