‘House of Horrors’ Mother Admits to Pouring Boiling Water on Child: Reports

October 21, 2019 Updated: October 21, 2019

A New Jersey mother of four admitted to pouring boiling water on a 3-year-old boy who was living in a “house of horrors,” prosecutors said.

Patricia Buchan, 29, of Newark, stated that she poured scalding water on the boy after heating it on the stove, officials said on Oct. 19. The child suffered second-degree burns, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office told NJ Advance Media.

The report, citing Newark police, said the boy was treated at the hospital, released, and is now in protective custody.

Buchan confessed to pouring the pot of water to punish the boy, who is not her son, at a home that she shared with several other people, reported the New York Daily News.

The incident took place last December when she was one of six residents in the apartment who abused the child, officials have alleged.

Patricia Gamarra, Homer Searcy, Mary Buchan, Natacha Smith, Bridget Buchan and Patricia Buchan in mug shots. (Essex County Prosecutor’s Office)

“This child lived his first three years in a house of horrors,” Essex County Assistant Prosecutor Michael Morris told the NY Daily News. “Today’s plea resolves the case without the ordeal of the children having to testify.”

Buchan faces as many as five years in a New Jersey prison, the Daily News noted.

Mary Buchan, Bridget Buchan, Patricia Gamarra, Homer Searcy, and the boy’s mother Natacha Smith, were also arrested in the case. They are accused of abusing the boy in a type of  “systematic and coordinated” corporal punishment, investigators said.

As of Friday, the five have been indicted but their cases are pending, Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Spokeswoman Katherine Carte told NJ Advance.

A Google Street View shows 200 Clinton Place, where the family lived in Newark. (Google Street View)

Newark school officials had alerted police to the abuse.

Meanwhile, the unnamed boy was among six children living in the apartment, including four of Patricia Buchan’s children. The five other children who were living in the home were also removed, prosecutors said.

Buchan is slated to appear in court for sentencing in December, ABC7 reported.

Last year, the Daily News reported that Smith and Searcy were in a relationship and moved to an apartment shared by sisters Patricia Gamarra and Mary Buchan. Patricia Buchan and Bridget Buchan, Mary’s daughters, also lived there.

Facts About Crime in the United States

Violent crime in the United States has fallen sharply over the past 25 years, according to both the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) and the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) (pdf).

The rate of violent crimes fell by 49 percent between 1993 and 2017, according to the FBI’s UCR, which only reflects crimes reported to the police.

The violent crime rate dropped by 74 percent between 1993 and 2017, according to the BJS’s NCVS, which takes into account both crimes that have been reported to the police and those that have not.

The FBI recently released preliminary data for 2018. According to the Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report, January to June 2018, violent crime rates in the United States dropped by 4.3 percent compared to the same six-month period in 2017.

While the overall rate of violent crime has seen a steady downward drop since its peak in the 1990s, there have been several upticks that bucked the trend. Between 2014 and 2016, the murder rate increased by more than 20 percent, to 5.4 per 100,000 residents, from 4.4, according to an Epoch Times analysis of FBI data. The last two-year period that the rate soared so quickly was between 1966 and 1968.