New York Father, GF Arrested After ‘Disturbing’ Death of HV Child
A father and girlfriend have been arrested following the investigation into the "disturbing" death of a Hudson Valley boy.
On Friday, Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler and City of Newburgh Police Commissioner Jose A. Gomerez announced 39-year-old Leticia Bravo of Newburgh was arraigned on an indictment charging her with crimes including murder, in connection with the starvation death of a seven-year-old boy, Peter Cuacuas, who prosecutors allege was kept secreted inside of her City of Newburgh Apartment, while he starved to death.
On Feb. 10 2021, shortly after 8:30 a.m., the City of Newburgh Police Department was notified by Montefiore St. Luke's Cornwall Hospital in Newburgh that a 7-year-old boy arrived at the hospital in a private vehicle and was not breathing at the time he arrived, according to police. The boy was pronounced dead a short time later.
Peter attended Temple Hill Academy in New Windsor, according to Newburgh school officials. Grief counseling was offered to Peter's classmates.
An investigation conducted by the City of Newburgh Police Department, aided by the New York State Police, the Child Protective Service Multi-Disciplinary Taskforce and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, revealed that during the school year that commenced in September of 2020, Bravo became the primary caretaker of Peter Cuacuas.
Bravo is believed to be the girlfriend of Peter Cuacuas’ father, Arturo Cuacuas. It is believed that Peter would stay with Bravo at her apartment on William Street in Newburgh every day but Saturday, when Bravo and Peter would stay with his father at Arturo Cuacuas’ apartment.
An autopsy conducted by the Orange County Medical Examiner concluded that Peter, who weighed just 37 pounds, had died as a result of malnutrition, officials say.
"The loss of our brother Peter Cuacuas has shattered our hearts and changed our lives. There are no words to describe this senseless act. We are overwhelmed by the outpour of love, condolences and support from family members, friends and the community. We ask that you all respect the ongoing investigation, hold off on any questions you may have and to not post/repost any misleading statements. No specifics or official statements have been released and hope you will understand our need for privacy during this tragic time. Finally, my family would like to extend our deepest gratitude to our community, and the vigils being held in memory of our brother are greatly appreciated. Thank you," Ramiro Cuacuas wrote after her brother's death.
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.
“It is unthinkable that someone would accept the responsibility of caring for a child and then deny that child the basic necessities of life,” said District Attorney David Hoovler. “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 had worked as a child-care provider, faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted of murder. Bail was set in the amount of $250,000 cash, or $900,000 fully secured bond, or $1,500,000 partially secured bond.
“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. We want to thank Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler and his staff for relentless work on this case,' City of Newburgh Police Commissioner Jose A. Gomerez stated.
Arturo Cuacuas, the boy's father, was charged with criminally negligent homicide for his role in Peter’s death.
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