A woman who worked as a childcare provider has been charged with murder after she allegedly locked her boyfriend’s seven-year-old son in a room and starved him to death.
Leticia Bravo, 39, was charged with starving seven-year-old Peter Cuacuas to death by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office on Friday, 8th October.
The Orange County District Attorney said in a statement that Peter weighed just 16.7 kilogrammes (37 lbs) and was already dead when Bravo took him to St. Luke’s Hospital in the city of Newburgh in New York State on 10th February 2021.
An autopsy later revealed that the cause of death was malnutrition and an investigation into Bravo was launched.
The statement said: “It is alleged that Bravo kept Peter locked and secreted in a bedroom behind a door that locked from the outside.
“Since January of 2021, Peter never logged on for virtual schooling, despite numerous conversations between Bravo and Peter’s teachers and other school representatives.”
The Orange County District Attorney’s Office revealed that during the 2020 school year, Bravo became the boy’s primary carer.
It is unclear why Arturo Cuacuas, Peter’s father, handed him over to his girlfriend, but according to the statement, Peter spent every day with Bravo other than Saturdays when he would visit his dad.
Bravo was arrested on 7th October while Peter’s dad Arturo Cuacuas was charged on the same day with Criminally Negligent Homicide.
District Attorney David Hoovler said: “It is unthinkable that someone would accept the responsibility of caring for a child and then deny that child the basic necessities of life.”
He added: “Children are the most innocent and vulnerable of victims. It is truly disturbing how this child was kept hidden from school authorities before he died.”
Bravo is next scheduled to appear at Orange County Court on 26th October. She faces 25 years to life in prison on the charge of Murder in the Second Degree.
The statement did not comment on Cuacuas’ current legal status.