7-year-old NY boy weighed 37 pounds when he died; caregiver charged with murder

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(Photo by JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images)

NEWBURGH, NY — A New York woman allegedly starved a 7-year-old boy to death, officials said Friday.

Prosecutors said Leticia Bravo, a 39-year-old child-care provider, kept Peter Cuacuas “secreted inside of her City of Newburgh Apartment, while he starved to death.” Cuacuas weighed just 37 pounds when he died. An autopsy determined he died of malnutrition.

“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.”

Cuacuas died in February, officials said. Bravo became his primary caretaker in September of 2020. She’s believed to be the girlfriend of the boy’s father, Arturo Cuacuas. Investigators said the child appeared to stay at Bravo’s home most days, with a weekly stay at his father’s apartment.

The boy’s father was charged with criminally negligent homicide in his son’s death.

Officials said the boy was kept locked in a room. He didn’t log on for virtual schooling in the weeks before his death, despite conversations between Bravo and teachers at the school.

Bravo was arraigned Friday on murder and manslaughter charges. Bail was set at $250,000 cash, or $900,000 fully secured bond, or $1,500,000 partially secured bond. She faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted.

“Today is about justice for Peter Cuacuas. Our children are our most vulnerable community members,” City of Newburgh Police Commissioner Jose A. Gomerez said. “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.”

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