Van Erick Custodio Bio-Van Erick Custodio Wiki
Gastonia police said in a news release on Thursday that Van Erick Custodio, of Gastonia, was previously charged with felony child abuse causing severe bodily injury. According to police, officers and emergency personnel responded to a home on April 1 after a report of an infant in cardiac arrest.
Van Erick Custodio is 42 years old.
DETAIL OF INCIDENCE:
Police in North Carolina arrested a former college professor on first-degree murder charges after they allege his 6-week-old adopted son died as a result of physical abuse. On April 1, authorities were called out to the Gastonia, N.C., home of 42-year-old Van Erick Custodio for an infant in cardiac arrest, according to the Gastonia Police Department.
Upon further investigation, detectives determined that newborn Lucas Birchim’s cardiac arrest stemmed from physical abuse injuries allegedly caused by Custodio, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Belmont Abbey College. The baby boy succumbed to his injuries on Wednesday, per a department news release.
According to WSOC-TV, the infant suffered from a “skull fracture, broken rib, and multiple fractures in each leg,” allegedly caused by Custodio.
During the investigation, friends told police that Custodio allegedly confessed he threw the newborn on the couch and “squeezed the child, hearing a pop in the rib area.” Additionally, “he jerked the legs of the child back and felt a pop in the child’s legs” while changing the baby’s diaper, the station reported. While Custodio was looking to expand his family last April, he uploaded a YouTube video titled “Help the Custodios Adopt,” in which he and his wife made a public plea for help adopting another child. In the video — which also featured his adopted daughter — Custodio said it would take a “miracle” to be able to adapt once more. “If you happen to know anyone that is in a crisis pregnancy that would like to offer their child generously up for adoption, as a sibling for our daughter… that would be awesome,” he said.
The family also asked the public for help in raising money. Custodio added, “If you happen to be hearing a call to help us fund our next adoption, we’d be gratefully honored and blessed.” Both Hands Foundation, a nonprofit that helped the family’s adoption fundraising efforts, said in a statement to PEOPLE: “Our team is incredibly devastated about this news. We find these actions atrocious and fully denounce any violence towards children.
A GoFundMe campaign also raised more than $10,000 for adoption costs, per WBTV-TV.
Since his arrest, people confirmed that UNC Charlotte has placed Custodio on administrative leave. “UNC Charlotte hired Van Erick Custodio on a limited, temporary contract to teach one class this semester in an adjunct capacity,” the university said in a statement. “He has been placed on administrative leave, and another faculty member will cover this class for the remainder of the semester.”Custodio’s other place of employment, Belmont Abbey College, said that Custodio was not currently teaching classes at the time of the alleged murder.
“Van Erick was hired by Belmont Abbey in 2019 to teach computer science. Earlier this year he requested family leave which was granted, so he was not teaching at the Abbey when the incident occurred. Van Erick was suspended from teaching at the Abbey effective 4/13/2022. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those impacted by this terrible event,” the school said in a statement to people. On Monday, police tracked Custodio down in York County, S.C. He was extradited to Gaston County, N.C., Monday, according to authorities.
Custodio is being held on a $500,000 bond. In addition to the first-degree murder charge, he faces a charge of felony child abuse.