Woman admits to scalding 3-year-old

NEWARK, NJ — Patricia Buchan, 29, of Newark admitted to scalding a 3-year-old boy who had been entrusted to her care, according to an Oct. 18 press release from the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office.

Appearing before Superior Court Judge Verna Leath, Buchan told the court that on Dec. 4, 2018, the 3-year-old urinated on the floor in her son’s room. She admitted telling the child to take off his clothes, get in the bathtub and then took a pot of boiling water from the stove and poured it on the boy’s lower body, resulting in second-degree burns.

Newark public preschool officials had alerted authorities to the abuse. The boy and the five other children lived in the home, including four of Buchan’s biological children, ranging in age from 1 to 7. Buchan now has a fifth child with whom she was pregnant when the incident happened.

Assistant Prosecutor Michael Morris, who handled the case, said under the terms of a plea agreement Buchan will face up to five years in New Jersey State Prison. She must serve 85 percent of her sentence before she is eligible for parole. Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 6.

“This child lived his first three years in a house of horrors,’’ Morris said. “Today’s plea resolves the case without the ordeal of the children having to testify.”

Buchan and five other adults, including the mother of the 3-year-old, Natacha Smith, 44, of Newark, were arrested Dec. 12, 2018, and charged with aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of a child.

The others arrested were Patricia Gamarra, 63, Mary Buchan, 56, Bridget Buchan, 24, and Homer Searcy, 40. Searcy was dating Smith but is not related to the child victim.

Mary Buchan and Patricia Gamarra are sisters. Patricia Buchan and Bridget Buchan are Mary’s daughters. They all lived together in one of the four units in an apartment building in the 200 block of Clinton Place.

The other adults have all been indicted. The final resolution of their cases is pending. These defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they have pleaded guilty or have been convicted at trial.