Six juvenile detention staffers put on leave after death

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) - Maritza Perez looked into her son's casket and made one last promise.

"I told him that I'm not going to rest until they make those who did what they did to him to pay for what they did to him," said Perez.

The Department of Juvenile Justice confirms they're beginning an investigation into the death of 18-year-old Eric Perez.

On Tuesday, the six juvenile detention staffers who were responsible for the teen's care were put on administrative leave.

It's a common step during investigations surrounding a death, and the department stresses it isn't a sign of wrongdoing.

However, the family took the move as a positive sign that answers will be forthcoming.

"Oh, that's good. That's good. I can see that they're trying to do something. Absolutely, that's good, yeah," said Perez.

The family says detention center officials told them that Eric had an enlarged heart, bleeding on the brain, and shortness of breath.

However, they say they weren't aware of any of those conditions.

The DJJ also said in a statement that it is "committed to working with our communities and partners in the legislature to ensure that quality management of medical services is provided to children in our care."

But his mother, Maritza, is still haunted by the last time they spoke by phone, less than 24 hours before he was found dead.

"I noticed in his voice that he was kind of down, depressed, that something was going on. I kept saying 'Eric (what) is wrong, tell me.' A mother knows when there's something wrong with their kid. And he didn't want to tell me."

Eric, who as serving time for a parole violation, was supposed to be released on Tuesday.

For his family, the suspicion that there's something more to his death than "natural causes," has been hardest to live with.

"For him to be laying in a coffin today is unacceptable."

There are two investigations going on: One by the inspector general of the Department of Juvenile Justice and the other by the West Palm Beach police.

There's no word on how long either of the investigations might take.

Copyright 2011 WFLX. All Rights Reserved.