A New York woman is accused of locking her boyfriend’s 7-year-old son in a bedroom and starving him to death.
Now, she faces a murder charge, officials announced.
Around 8 a.m. Feb. 10, Leticia Bravo, 39, brought 7-year-old Peter Cuacuas’ lifeless body to St. Luke’s Hospital in Newburgh, New York, Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler said.
He was pronounced dead shortly afterward, police said.
An investigation took place and it showed Bravo became the primary caretaker of Peter during the school year that began in September of 2020, officials said.
Authorities said Bravo is believed to be the girlfriend of Peter’s father, Arturo Cuacuas. Peter would stay with Bravo during the week at her apartment in Newburgh, but then Peter and Bravo would stay at Arturo’s apartment on Saturday, police said.
The Orange County Medical Examiner conducted an autopsy on Peter’s body and determined he died as a result of malnutrition and weighed 37 pounds.
According to authorities, Bravo kept Peter in a bedroom behind a door that locked from the outside.
Police said Peter hasn't logged into virtual schooling since January 2021. That was despite numerous conversations between Bravo and Peter’s teachers and other representatives from the school.
Arturo Cuacuas was charged on Oct. 7 with criminally negligent homicide for his role in the child’s death, officials said.
In a press release, 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. 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.”
City of Newburgh Police Commissioner Jose A. Gomerez added, “Today is about justice for Peter Cuacuas. Our children are our most vulnerable community members. This is a devastating case for our entire community, who I know were frustrated over the past eight months with no arrest being made. This has been a lengthy and emotional case that has affected our department, specifically those involved in the investigation.”