City of Newburgh communities and their neighboring towns are grieving, and angry. On top of the stress of families coping with the COVID-19 crisis and the worries about how their own children are handling it, they have worried and tried to help neighbors. There is collective shock over the discovery that last week that 7-year-old Peter Cuacuas who was brought to Montefiore St. Luke’s Hospital was not breathing, and brought in non breathing, malnourished and many saing he appeared to have starved to death, and with marks on his ankles that may have been made by shackles. Within a day, another child just 12 years old in New Jersey was also found shackled and chained. But that boy was “lucky”. He was still alive. The child in the City of Newburgh was not as lucky, and was dead when a caregiver brought him to the hospital. People in the City are outraged. They want to know how this could happen. Did anyone follow up from his school at Temple Hill Academy? Or was he never even registered?. Did anyone notice how long the boy had not been seen? And what about CPS (Child Protective Services). Had they been notified, as one resident on social media commented? And of the concerns being shared, perhaps the greatest is “What is happening with the other 2 children who were in the home?”, and “Are my children and my neighbors’ children going to be safe?”
Asked if any follow-up by Orange County Officials is going to include any additional measures that can ensure that any school child is not present at his/her in-person or video school session for more than a day would from here on be subject to a child welfare check, the County Executive’s office responded,”The death of any person is sad, a child of course, is the saddest. Due to the ongoing criminal investigation, we cannot comment further at this time.”
The District Attorney’s office has announced the a Grand Jury Investigation is planned.
The Newburgh community understands that a criminal investigation cannot be discussed, at risk of nullifying results of a trial, if there is one. But they still want answers, are holding vigils at the home on Williams Street, and ask that their community be kept in everyone’s prayers. One of the residents organizing the vigils said on Wednesday afternoon, “Myself and others will be holding a vigil marking one week since our beloved seven year old angel has left our community under unknown circumstances. As the community angrily and emotionally waits on answers; those of you whom work during the day are invited to attend this evening and each Wednesday going forward until we’ve received some answers.” Others are adding comments to the hashtag #Save the children, and wondering if two children can be found in shackles and chains how many more might there be.