A Hudson Valley woman is facing multiple charges, including murder, for allegedly starving a 7-year-old to death she kept secreted inside her apartment, the District Attorney announced.
Leticia Bravo, age 39, of Newburgh in Orange County was indicted on Friday, Oct. 8 for her role in the death of 7-year-old Petter Cuacuas, who was kept hidden behind a bedroom behind a door that locked from the outside.
Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler said that shortly after 8 a.m. on Feb. 10, Braves brought the child’s lifeless body to St. Luke’s Hospital in Newburgh, where he was pronounced dead.
The investigation into the death found that when the school year began in September 2020, Bravo became the primary caretaker of Cuacuas, as she dated the boy's father, Arturo Cuacuas.
Investigators said that Cuacuas would stay with Bravo at here William Street apartment in Newburgh every day but Saturdays, which were reserved for his father.
The autopsy by the Medical Examiner found that Cuacuas, who was 37 pounds at the time of his death, died as a result of malnutrition.
Hoovler said that it is alleged that Bravo kept Peter Cuacuas locked in the room, and the boy hadn't logged in to school for virtual learning for more than a month before his death, despite teachers attempting to intervene.
“It is unthinkable that someone would accept the responsibility of caring for a child and then deny that child the basic necessities of life,” Hoovler said.
“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, who worked as a child-care provider, was arrested on Thursday, Oct. 7, and charged with murder, and multiple counts of manslaughter. Bail was set at $250,000 cash, or $900,000 fully secured bond, or $1,500,000 partially secured bond.
If convicted, Bravo faces life in prison. Her next appearance in Orange County Court is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 26.
Arturo Cuacuas was also charged with criminally negligent homicide for his role in the 7-year-old’s death.
"Today is about justice for Peter Cuacuas,” City of Newburgh Police Commissioner Jose Gomerez stated. “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,” he said. “This has been a lengthy and emotional case that has affected our department, specifically those involved in the investigation.”
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