HARTFORD, — An investigation has found that the death of an autistic Connecticut teenager from malnutrition was preventable and there were problems with the state child welfare agency.
The state Child Advocate’s Office released a report Tuesday on the February death of 17-year-old Matthew Tirado, of Hartford. When he died, the 5-foot-9-inch-tall Tirabo weighed only 84 pounds, according to report.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner also found that Tirabo has sustained “numerous injuries in various stages of healing,” including multiple “broken ribs, a laceration to the head, several bruises and contustions on his upper body, a pattern type injury to the upper back, and a bed sore type injruies to the buttocks,” Child Advocate Sarah Egan reported.
Police charged Matthew’s mother, Katirina Tirado, in May with manslaughter and cruelty to persons.
The Egan’s report says the state Department of Children and Families closed a neglect case involving Matthew Tirado a month before his death, after his mother refused for months to let a DCF worker see him.
DCF Commissioner Joette Katz said in a statement that, while “nothing diminishes the heartbreaking nature of what happened,” her agency lacked authority to force his mother to allow access to the boy.
"In this particular instance, the mother repeatedly denied child welfare, school, and law enforcement officials, among others, access to Matthew,” she said. “Lacking the authority to force the mother to cooperate and allow access to Matthew, none of these entities had evidence of the abuse that she inflicted on him. With that said, despite the limitations on what actions the Department can take in light of parental resistance, the Department has taken steps to improve the work of our agency."
Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, renewed his call for Katz to resign, saying she hasn’t improved the DCF, which was already under federal court oversight prior to her appointment, during her seven years as commissioner.
“I would make a very argument that not only is she not better after seven years, in some categories she’s fallen behind in those categories,” he said.
Sen. Len Suzio, R-Meriden, and co-chairman of the Children’s Committee, said the committee will hold a hearing on Dec. 19 to hear from both Egan and DCF before considering what action the legislature might take next year.