HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- It's a grim statistic that's severely impacting the Houston-area community. In just over the last two years, the Harris County Medical Examiners Office said 42 children under the age of 12 have been homicide victims.
SEE ALSO: Aunt of 2-year-old says family tried reporting abuse before his death
Already in 2021, autopsies have shown that both 1-year-old Fernanda Morales and 2-year-old Tevin "TJ" Jefferson suffered from blunt force trauma in unrelated incidents. In both of the Harris County cases, the children's mothers and their boyfriends have been arrested.
SEE ALSO: Baby girl dies from abuse, investigators say
Maria Cosigua lost her 3-year-old son, Wilson, on New Year's Eve. The young mother said she went to work and left the toddler with her boyfriend, David Ixcayau. She said she got a call at work from someone asking her to come home because Wilson was sick, and when she arrived, he was unconscious.
"My baby had bruises all over his face," Cosigua said. "His leg, his back had bruises. The worst thing is, he was laying down on a blanket, naked like a dog."
No arrests have been made in the case, but Houston police named Ixcayau a person of interest in the following days, and police are still looking to speak with him.
SEE ALSO: Police looking for 19-year-old 'person of interest' in 3-year-old boy's death on NYE
Little Wilson's autopsy is not complete.
"I miss him," Cosigua said. "He is my soulmate. He used to come here with me to the clinic and play around."
Not every case ends up with a child dead. So far in 2021, ABC13 has covered seven cases involving children under 10 years old. The cases range from a 9-year-old girl being shot in the head during a road rage incident, to a 5-year-old girl being shot by her sibling who was just a year or two older than her, to several cases of abuse.
Dwilene Lindsey with Children 4 Tomorrow said before the pandemic they would receive a few calls every week or two. Now, she said she gets several a day. She said she does not know if it is related to the pandemic.
Children 4 Tomorrow deals mostly with emotional abuse against children and they often suffer in silence.
"Some of them don't even realize this isn't something normal," Lindsey said. "Their parents have been doing this since they were newborns."
Lindsey describes emotional abuse as the top of the pyramid. She said abuse will escalate from there and can have lasting effects on children. They see abuse survivors suffer from depression, commit suicide, have trouble forming relationships, end up in jail or turn to alcohol or drugs.
"I don't know the answer to how we can change this, but I do know that if the parents have so much stress on them, there are places where you can take these children if you can't deal with them," Lindsey said. "There are people who want children who would love to be loving on them."
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42 children under age of 12 have been killed in Harris County since 2019
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