Viewers’ hearts broke for Gabriel Fernandez while watching Netflix’s new true crime documentary, The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez, but what happened to the little boy’s surviving siblings? Before his death, the 8-year-old had an older brother, Ezequiel, and older sister, Virginia. Though the doc reveals they didn’t suffer the same violent abuse, they dealt with struggles of their own.
Ezequiel and Virginia were victims of their mother. According to an article from The Atlantic, Pearl Fernandez “had a history of neglecting and abusing her children” even before she gained custody of Gabriel when he was 7. At the time she and her boyfriend, Isauro Aguirre, took her youngest in, her other son was 11 and her daughter was 9. When Pearl and Aguirre started abusing Fernandez, Ezequiel and Virginia were forced to watch and even join in.
The siblings did their best to protect their little brother. They said they tried to sneak him food when he was locked in “the cubby” and instruct him on how to pretend to be more hurt than he was so that each instance of physical abuse would be over sooner. Ultimately, they were able to help get justice on his behalf. Though Pearl took a plea deal and her case didn’t go to trial, the siblings both testified against Aguirre.
At the time of the trial, Ezequiel was 16 and Virginia was 14. The teenage girl explained under oath how her mother and Aguirre forced her little brother to “run around” while they shot at him with a BB gun and made him eat “cat poop.” The teen boy struggled to recall details on the stand, having seemingly blocked the memories out as best he could. “I just don’t want to remember it,” he explained to the prosecutor.
In 2014, the siblings were part of a lawsuit with grandparents Robert and Sandra Fernandez against Los Angeles County and several county services, including the Department of Children and Family Services and the sheriff’s office. Per Newsweek, the Fernandez family, along with additional parties, may have received $2.6 million in a settlement. Today, Netflix explains Ezequiel and Virginia have a new “safe harbor” with a family member. The brother and sister moved out of the state of California, where they were raised, but their current location is unknown.
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