Authorities in Newburgh revealed the first grim details investigators found following an 8-month investigation into the death a 7-year-old in February 2021.
Peter Cuacuas was brought "lifeless" and weighing only 37 pounds to Montefiore St. Luke's Cornwall Hospital in Newburgh back on Feb. 10 by his father's girlfriend, Letitia Bravo, police said Friday. The medical examiner in Orange County found Cuacuas died of starvation.
An investigation launched shortly after, the details of which were kept under wraps until now, revealed Bravo had become the boy's primary caretaker sometime after the start of school in September 2020, according to police. The 39-year-old, who is charged with second-degree murder, allegedly watched after Cuacuas six days a week and kept him locked in a bedroom since January.
"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," a release from the investigators said.
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At least one day each week it's believed that the boy's father, Arturo Cuacuas, had custody or was visiting with his son. As told by the police and prosecutor, Bravo was responsible for the 7-year-old's deteriorating condition but his father did not appropriately intervene.
"[Arturo Cuacuas] knew or should have known the condition was worsening and should have taken action to do something about it," Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler said at a press conference Friday.
Hoovler took a few minutes in the press conference to defend the length of the investigation, saying that COVID obstacles and staffing shortages added to the already laborious time of conducting interviews, running DNA and other aspects of a death investigation.
Bravo is scheduled back in court on Oct. 26. Attorney information for either defendant was not immediately known.