Childcare provider charged with murder after 7-year-old boy dies of starvation

The 39-year-old woman, who worked as a childcare provider, was charged with second-degree murder on Friday. Prosecutors say the woman has been charged after her boyfriend’s 7-year-old son died of starvation earlier this year. The 39-year-old woman is now facing 25 years to life in prison for the second-degree murder charge. The woman has also been charged with first and second-degree manslaughter. The child’s father and suspect’s boyfriend has been charged with criminally negligent homicide. 

According to the court documents, the 7-year-old victim, Peter Cuacuas, was brought to St. Luke’s Hospital in New York, a little after 8:00 a.m. on February 10 as he had become unresponsive. The youngster was declared dead shortly after. Following an autopsy, it was found that the boy weighed just 37 pounds at the time of his death. The cause of death was determined to be malnutrition. It was alleged that the suspect, Leticia Bravo, kept the 7-year-old boy locked in a bedroom “behind a door that locked from the outside,” per the DA’s office.  

It is believed that the boy stayed with the woman at her apartment in New York through the week except for Saturday when he would visit his father, Arturo, along with Bravo and stay at his apartment. Bravo became the boy’s primary caretaker when the school year began in September 2020. However, Peter never logged in for virtual schooling after January 2021 despite teachers and school representatives contacting Bravo and having a conversation about the same. 

“We have one person responsible for the condition that sets everything in motion that leads to Peter’s death and you have another person that saw it happening while it was going on and should have known to take some action and didn’t,” said District Attorney Hoovler pointing at the boy’s father and carer Bravo.

Condemning the so-called childcare provider, Hoovler continued, “It is unthinkable that someone would accept the responsibility of caring for a child and then deny that child the basic necessities of life. It is truly disturbing how this child was kept hidden from school authorities before he died.”

Bravo is being represented by an attorney, Eric Shiller, who has denied her involvement in the death of the child. Shiller noted that Bravo, a mother of three children, is not the mother of the deceased child and therefore she had no legal responsibility towards Peter. That being said, he did not respond to allegations regarding Peter being kept locked up by Bravo and that he died while being allegedly in her care. The woman was arrested and is currently in jail. She is due to appear in court on October 26.