Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler and City of Newburgh Police Commissioner Jose A. Gomerez announced that on Friday, October 8, Leticia Bravo, 39, of Newburgh, was arraigned before Orange County Court Judge Craig Stephen Brown, on an Indictment charging her with crimes including Murder in the Second Degree, 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. Bail was set in the amount of $250,000 cash, or $900,000 fully secured bond, or $1,500,000 partially secured bond. Bravo is next scheduled to appear in Orange County Court on October 26, 2021.
On February 10, 2021, shortly after 8:00 a.m., Bravo brought Peter Cuacuas’ lifeless body to St. Luke’s Hospital in Newburgh. He was pronounced dead shortly thereafter. 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. 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.
Bravo, who had worked as a child-care provider, was charged with Murder in the Second Degree, Manslaughter in the First Degree and Manslaughter in the Second Degree. Bravo faces 25 years to Life in prison on the charge of Murder in the Second Degree.
Bravo was arrested by the City of Newburgh Police Department on October 7, 2021. Arturo Cuacuas was charged on October 7, 2021 with Criminally Negligent Homicide for his role in Peter’s death.
District Attorney Hoovler thanked the City of Newburgh Police Department and New York State Police for their investigation and the arrest of the defendants.
“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. I thank the City of Newburgh Police Department, and the New York State Police for their ongoing investigation on this case.”
City of Newburgh Police Commissioner Jose A. Gomerez stated, “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.”
The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Richard Moran, Special Counsel to the District Attorney Stewart Rosenwasser and Assistant District Attorney Alexis Gregory.