Could anyone have saved 4-year-old Myls Dobson?
He was beaten, starved, burned, whipped and locked outdoors on an 11th-floor balcony in only his underwear to face subzero winds.
He was found unconscious last week in the bathtub of a high-rise luxury apartment near Times Square and died hours later at Roosevelt Hospital.
It is horrifying that anything like this should happen in New York City -- and Mayor Bill de Blasio has correctly asked the city's Administration for Children's Services to determine if official procedures went wrong.
The short answer is surely yes. The evidence shows that ACS and Family Court could have been far more careful about where they sent Myls to live.
The child's mother, Ashlee Dobson, lost custody of Myls in 2011 following reports of neglect. The boy's father, Okee Wade, gained custody of Myls despite a significant rap sheet that included an arrest in connection with a rape and convictions for attempted robbery and assault.
ACS says it tries to keep families intact when possible and considers mothers, fathers or other family members as potential caretakers for kids.
But a father with a history of criminal violence?
That was a terrible call. And then ACS kept tabs on Myls for only a year before closing the case.
Myls' father was subsequently arrested again, accused of stealing from bank accounts. When he realized he was about to be jailed for missing a court appearance, police say he left Myls at the apartment of his girlfriend, Kryzie King, who's now suspected in the boy's death.
We know that bureaucratic mistakes are always easier to see after the fact than in real time.
But Myls' extended family -- justifiably -- wants to know why the child was placed with his father instead of with one of them. And we would like to know why ACS closed its case after only one year.
Caseworkers and the courts can't prevent every horror.
But de Blasio has instructed ACS to report back to him on Friday. We expect a candid accounting of this tragedy.