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home : news : law enforcement June 27, 2022

4/14/2022 7:07:00 AM
Custodio Now Charged With Murder

Gastonia Police Department
Press Release


An assistant professor of computer science at Belmont Abbey College who has also worked as an adjunct professor at UNC- Charlotte has now been charged with murder by Gastonia Police after a six-week-old child he allegedly physically abused
died Wednesday afternoon (April 13th).

Police say the family of Van Erick Custodio, 42, was supposed to be in the process of adopting the baby boy, Lucas Birchim.

Police say that at approximately 10 AM on Friday April 1st, police along with fire and rescue personnel responded to a home on Prancer Lane in southeast Gastonia after receiving a report of an infant in cardiac arrest. The infant was transported to a local hospital in life-threatening condition. 

During their investigation, detectives determined that the infant’s cardiac arrest was related to injuries that were consistent with being physically abused.

Detectives obtained a warrant for Custodio's arrest, and on Monday (April 11th), he was arrested in York County, South Carolina. He was extradited to Gaston County. He was jailed Thursday (April 13th) under a half million dollars bond.  When the child died Wednesday, the charge was elevated to first degree murder.



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