New Jersey police have arrested six people in connection with a case of horrific child abuse of a 3-year-old boy, the New York Daily News is reporting. The six people would allegedly beat the boy with fists and belts and pour scalding water on him, as a form of corporal punishment.
The boy’s mother, Natacha Smith, 43, lived with five other individuals in a Newark apartment. They are identified as her boyfriend Homer (Omar) Searcy, 39; sisters Patricia Gamarra, 62, and Mary Buchan, 55; Buchan’s daughters, Patricia Buchan, 28, and Bridget Buchan, 23.
Police, in describing the apartment as a “house of horrors,” say that whenever the 3-year-old misbehaved, the six suspects would take turns beating the helpless boy with fists, belts, and even pouring scalding water on him.
A worker at a food pantry across the street from the family’s home, who asked to remain anonymous, tells WABC-TV (New York City) that the family would often come for food baskets, but that they (the worker) never noticed anything amiss.
“No, we had no idea of what was going on. Sometimes they would bring the kids and whatever the case, and go back. Because we just service the community, we know they live there. So when the kids are out and we have little snacks and stuff, we give the kids something extra, but other than that, we haven’t seen anything.”
23-year-old Bridget Buchan, 28-year-old Patricia Buchan, 39-year-old Homer Searcy, 43-year-old Natacha Smith, 55-year-old Mary Buchan, and 62-year-old Patricia Gamarra https://t.co/mjGTfnYIgQ
— julia cooper (@jewls7969) December 13, 2018
According to NJ.com, police were alerted to the child abuse by a worker at a child care facility. It is not clear how, why, or when this took place.
The boy was hospitalized because of his injuries. He has since been released into the care of Child Protective Services. Meanwhile, police say five other children lived at the home, although as of this writing none of them are believed to have been victims of child abuse. They, too, have been placed into the custody of Child Protective Services.
This is not the first child-abuse case involving scalding water being used as an implement. As NBC News reported at the time, in May, California couple Ina Rogers and Jonathan Allen were accused of, among other things, pouring scalding water on their children as a form of punishment. The case drew attention to California’s lack of oversight of families who homeschool their children, as those particular children were never sent to school (and thus, never observed by other adults).
In New Jersey, all six adults in the Newark case are scheduled to be arraigned on Thursday, December 14. It is unclear, as of this writing, what charges they face, specifically.