NEWARK — A 29-year-old mother of five has admitted to torturing a roommate's 3-year-old boy by scalding him with boiling water after he urinated on the floor.

Patricia Buchan pleaded guilty this week in a deal that could land her in prison for up to five years.

Buchan was one of six adults arrested in December at what prosecutors called a "house of horrors" where children were brutalized with belts and fists.

Also charged with brutally beating the boy were his mother, Natacha Smith, 44, and Smith's boyfriend, Homer Searcy, 40; as well as Buchan's sister, Bridget Buchan, 24; their mother, Mary Buchan, 56; and their aunt, Patricia Gamarra, 63. All lived in the same apartment in the Weequahic section.

At the time of her arrest, Patricia Buchan had four children of her own ranging in age from 1 to 7 and was pregnant with her fifth.

Prosecutors said the little boy had urinated on a bedroom floor. Buchan said that she ordered the boy to take off his clothes and get into a bathtub, where Buchan took a pot of water that she had boiled on the stove and poured it on the boy's lower body. The boy suffered second-degree burns.

Police were alerted to the 3-year-old's abuse by city preschool workers.

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

Buchan's relatives and housemates have been indicted on aggravated assault and child endangerment charges.

Buchan is scheduled to be sentenced in Superior Court on Dec. 6.

Mary Buchan was charged with five others with beating a 3-year-old child in December 2018. (Essex County Prosecutor's Office)
Bridget Buchan was charged with five others with beating a 3-year-old child in December 2018. (Essex County Prosecutor's Office)
Patricia Gamarra was charged with five others with beating a 3-year-old child in December 2018. (Essex County Prosecutor's Office)
Natacha Smith was charged with five others with beating her 3-year-old child in December 2018. (Essex County Prosecutor's Office)
Homer Searcy was charged with five others with beating a 3-year-old child in December 2018. (Essex County Prosecutor's Office)

Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email sergio.bichao@townsquaremedia.com.

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