Tree planted in memory of Fall River boy
A dedication ceremony held today remembered the life of 14-year-old David Almond.
FALL RIVER, Mass. (WLNE) — A new tree stood tall Friday overlooking Battleship Cove in Fall River as a touching tribute to a 14-year-old autistic Fall River boy who was neglected until his death in 2020.
“This was a terrible tragedy,” recalled Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn, who came to pay his respects during the dedication ceremony at Fall River Heritage State Park just moments from David Almond’s former home.
David had been the victim of abuse and neglect, murdered by his father John Almond and his girlfriend Jaclyn Marie Coleman. Found emaciated and malnourished wearing an adult diaper in the couples’ one bedroom apartment on Greene Street in Fall River in October of 2020, David did not survive. The couple was charged with second degree murder.
The case highlighted serious flaws at the Department of Children and Families, who according to a 106 page report issued by the Office of the Child Advocate, “failed” the child. David and his triplet brothers had been removed from the home four times in 2017, bounced back and forth between living with his mother in New York and their father’s Fall River home for continued allegations of abuse and neglect.
Yet, the case hadn’t been considered high risk, and near the start of the COVID-19 pandemic David and his brother had been reunited with their father just seven months before his death.
“It was just a horrific situation,” said Carole Fiola, state representative of Bristol’s 6th District. “It is up to all of us to be vigilant and to do what we can to ensure this doesn’t happen.”
Michael Almeida, the father of a young boy who also lives with autism, spearheaded the dedication after saying he became “devastated” after learning of David’s tragic death.
“I couldn’t not do anything. I live just a few minutes away and my thing is, if you see something you gotta say something. Even if you’re wrong. But if you’re not, you could save a life,” he said.
Kindness rocks planted in Almond’s memory were on display that will line the base of the newly dedicated tree.
Fiola told ABC 6 News she plans to take the memorial tribute a step further, and has filed legislation to name the location where the tree was planted as the David Almond Grove.
“He loved the water. He loved nature. So he-he would like this,” said Almeida.