NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Did rat poison kill a 4-year-old boy in the Bronx?

As CBS 2’s Alice Gainer reported Tuesday, that is what a family has been trying to figure out while awaiting the results of an autopsy.

Migdelia Morales held up a photo of her son, Juan Sanchez, on Tuesday.

“He was a happy boy. He had a beautiful smile. He was ‘J.J.,’” she said.

Juan died Monday, a day after his mother believes he ingested something in their apartment building at 976 Tinton Ave. in the Morrisania section of the Bronx.

“My son died because of something that he ate, and it was nothing — no food,” Morales said.

Morales and her five sons, ranging in age from 3 to 10, spent Sunday morning in a nearby park. When they came back to the building, Morales said they saw the boy grab a can of beer left unattended in the hallway and drink it.

Morales made pancakes for the child, hoping they would absorb any alcohol.

But Morales told police that around noon, two of the children approached her and said Juan wasn’t breathing properly. He was blue and frothing at the mouth.

“I called 911 and I told them to help me keep my son alive,” Morales said. “(They said) to elevate him on his side and just keep on wiping whatever was coming out of his mouth.”

When emergency medical technicians arrived, they began CPR and transported Juan to a local hospital.
But sources said there was no alcohol in the boy’s system.

Now, Morales has blamed building management at 976 Tinton Ave., saying an exterminator baited her apartment two weeks ago with poison. Rat poison was also seen on the floor in her next-door neighbor’s apartment.

“It looked like candy, and he was one to pick up stuff from the floor sometimes, because that’s what kids do,” Morales said.

When asked if she had ever told the children to stay away from rat poison, Morales said she had never kept it in sight in the first place.

“I didn’t have it in. I made sure everything is clean all the time,” she said. “But they threw it in the cabinet and there’s a hole in the sink, so it fell in the cabinet. So even if he went into the cabinet, it’s their fault because of their negligence to repair stuff.”

The New York City Medical Examiner’s office said following the autopsy Monday, the cause and manner of death for Juan were inconclusive and pending further studies.

And as Morales awaited the final conclusions from the autopsy, she was making plans to move the family out of the building.

The building is operated by the city Department of Homeless Services. As of late Monday afternoon, the department had no comment.

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