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Deaf ear to a child's screams ends in tragedy

November 26, 1995
Web posted at: 12:50 a.m. EST

From Correspondent Gary Tuchman


NEW YORK (CNN) -- Across from the Manhattan bridge lived a little girl who really had nothing to give thanks for. Six-year-old Aliza Izguierdo was allegedly battered to death by her mother the day before Thanksgiving, making her yet another victim to a crime that occurs nearly 100 times a month.

Lt. Luis Gonzales of the New York City police department described it as the worst case of child abuse he had seen in 22 years of service. (53K AIFF sound or 53K WAV sound) Aliza was found with cigarette burns on her torso and contusions on her head and body.

On the 20th floor of the housing project where Aliza lived, neighbors had long been suspicious, but they said the signs were not so obvious as to prod them to call the police.


One neighbor said he now regrets not calling the family help line. Another said she often heard a lot of loud crying and cursing from Aliza's apartment. "I would hear the child screaming 'Mommy, please stop. I'm sorry, I'm sorry.' " (173K AIFF sound or 173K WAV sound)

Gonzales said Aliza's mother, Awilda Lopez, has been charged with murder and endangerment of a child.

children playing

But child welfare specialists believed that Aliza need not have been one more statistic to the estimated 1,100 child abuse deaths across the United States. They said people could stay anonymous, and urged them to call authorities if they were even the least bit concerned.

Kathryn Croft of New York's child welfare administration made her point with an old African proverb. "It takes an entire village to raise a child," she said. "And I really do believe everyone does have a responsibility."


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