No ‘Red Flags' of Neglect in Home of Toddler Who Died Alone in Fire

Social workers found no prior evidence of child neglect by a Brooklyn mother whose toddler died alone in an early morning fire in their apartment, NBC 4 New York has learned.

The city's Administration for Children's Services investigated three complaints alleging neglect by Leila Aquino during the past year, but found each to be unfounded, Deputy Mayor Herminia Palacio said Friday. All of the complaints were made anonymously.

"Sometimes tragedies happen," she said, "and there was no red flag that could have really tipped us off on how to prevent this."

Aquino, 20, was charged on Wednesday with reckless endangerment and child endangerment. She entered no plea in court and her attorney had no comment. Her bail was set at $10,000.

Police arrested Aquino Tuesday after her daughter, Kaleenah Muldrow, was found dead underneath a bed at her Monroe Street home in Bedford-Stuyvesant. A blaze erupted at the apartment before 7 a.m. and the child’s body was discovered at 8 a.m., according to officials

Aquino wasn't at home when the fire broke out, officials said.

Palacio said administrators closely reviewed caseworkers' files on Aquino. She said she believes the social workers did everything they could to protect Kaleenah's welfare.

Agency files show three complaints against Aquino.

In February 2015, an anonymous caller said Aquino's apartment was in poor condition. Caseworkers visited her home and found no problems with the apartment.

Three months later, the agency received an anonymous tip about possible neglect, but once again caseworkers determined the complaint was unfounded.

On Feb. 15, the agency received an anonymous tip that Aquino was working as a prostitute and failing to care for her daughter, and a caseworker went to the home the same day. The agency set up an appointment with Aquino, which she missed, and visited the home each day for four days until a caseworker saw Kaleenah and her mother.

At that visit, a caseworker observed Aquino and her daughter playing dress-up and saw no bumps or bruises on the girl, who seemed bonded to her mother, according to officials. The caseworker concluded that there was no neglect.

Aquino took advantage of some city services offered to her because she was a teenage mother, but she declined to attend parenting classes, Palacio said.

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