6 charged with regularly beating toddler, using him as ashtray

NEWARK, N.J. — Six adults in New Jersey are charged with abusing a 3-year-old in their care by punching him, scalding him with hot water and using him as an ashtray, among other offenses.

The boy's mother, 43-year-old Natacha Smith, along with 62-year-old Patricia Gamarra, 55-year-old Mary Buchan, 28-year-old Patricia Buchan, 23-year-old Bridget Buchan and 39-year-old Homer "Omar" Searcy face charges of aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of a child, according to local media reports.

Five of the adults entered not guilty pleas on Tuesday. Gamarra's case was postponed because her attorney couldn't be present.


Prosecutors said the abuse started in July in a small Newark apartment the six adults shared with six children. Smith burned the boy with cigarettes, said Assistant Essex County Prosecutor Kathleen Lyons-Boswick. The adults allegedly poured scalding water on the boy and beat him with a belt as punishment. All six adults even encouraged the other children living in the apartment to beat the 3-year-old, Boswick said.

Prosecutors said a day care teacher reported the abuse.

The child had to be hospitalized for his injuries, but has since been released and is in child protective custody, reported

The other children were in good condition, reported WABC-TV. They have been placed with other family members.