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Foreign National Charged With Beating His Adopted Baby To Death

Updated: Apr 20, 2022

GASTONIA, NC - On Wednesday, police arrested Van Erick Custodio, 42, after he admitted to abusing his six-week-old adopted son “multiple times,” according to court documents.

An autopsy report revealed that the baby had a “skull fracture, broken rib, and multiple fractures in each leg.”

The child, Lucas Birchim, who had been hospitalized for nearly two weeks, “succumbed to his injuries,” on April 13, states a Gastonia Police Department press release.

A video in which Custodio, his wife and daughter appear, remained on Youtube when this article was posted.

The video was an effort by Custodio to appeal for donations to adopt the baby he is now charged with killing.

In the video, Custodio proclaims:

We just felt like God put that desire in our hearts. We’ve always wanted to have a family. At the end of the day, it’s a calling, right, it’s also a scriptural thing, right?

Custodio is an adjunct professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and an assistant professor at Belmont Abbey College. He has reportedly been placed on administrative leave by both institutions.

Custodio has been charged with first-degree murder and felony child abuse with serious bodily injury. He is currently being held at the Gaston County Jail on an ICE detainer.

*Custodio, who is listed as "Asian or Pacific Islander" on his booking sheet, came to this country from the Philippines, but is not a citizen, according to law enforcement sources.

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