The 2-year-old boy died months after the first complaint to a hot line. Police never knew.
Four months before 2-year-old Joshua Saccone was beaten to death, a pediatrician notified child protection workers the little boy had bruises so painful that she couldn't touch him during an exam.
The Department of Children and Families failed to tell law enforcement officials about the suspected abuse as required by law, Palm Beach County sheriff's officials said. Social workers also ignored a second request by Dr. Suzana Montana to find the boy's abuser and make sure Joshua was safe, the pediatrician said Friday.
Joshua had bruises on his arms, legs and sides when Montana examined him in April. The boy told her his mother's boyfriend was responsible, Montana said, and she called the state child abuse hot line with the information.
Law enforcement wasn't notified about the injuries.
On June 30, the boy was brought to DCF's attention again after another complaint to the hot line. It is not clear what that complaint was.
Montana said she called a DCF investigator on July 29 and asked that the agency track down the person who was harming Joshua.
On Aug. 13, an unresponsive Joshua was taken to a West Palm Beach hospital by his mother, 31-year-old Marguerite Saccone, who said she thought he was having a seizure.
Doctors determined his skull had been fractured, and he died five days later from "child physical abuse," according to sheriff's reports.
Saccone was charged Wednesday with neglect and misleading authorities in connection with her son's abuse. The mother told sheriff's deputies Joshua was home with her live-in boyfriend, Lincent Marvin Chin Jr., the day Joshua suffered the deadly injuries.
Chin, 27, has vanished.
"We're still looking for him," said sheriff's Detective Robert Falbe, who is investigating the boy's death. "We do very much want to make contact with him to question him about this."
DCF spokeswoman Page Jolly said Friday that Joshua's case is confidential. The agency can't comment on the specifics of the case or whether child protection workers failed to report the boy's injuries to law enforcement authorities in April, Jolly said.
"We will find out where we or the system failed and take steps to remedy any such failures," Jolly said.
DCF's report on Joshua's injuries in April, which should have been received by the sheriff's office, probably got lost in a sea of complaints, Falbe said.
"I hate to bad-mouth DCF because they are overwhelmed," Falbe said.
"I think it just slipped through the cracks."