25 Investigates

25 Investigates: A baby’s remains sit in the morgue for months, as parents fight for custody of body

The remains of a three-month old boy are stuck in a morgue, awaiting burial, as his parents fight in court over who gets his body, 25 Investigates learned.

Though a cause of death for Luka Bustillo is still pending, 25 Investigates learned an autopsy was performed immediately after his January death. His body has been at the state medical examiner’s office ever since.

“I find myself with these crazy waves of sadness,” Dennis Bustillo, Luka’s dad and a recovering heroin addict told investigative reporter Ted Daniel. Both Bustillo and Luka’s mom were heavy involved with the Department of Children and Families (DCF).

Luka died on January 12th at his mother’s Revere home, according to a lengthy DCF file reviewed by 25 Investigates.

According to the documents, his mother, Jamie Gauthier, told first responders she awoke from a nap with Luka and he wasn’t breathing.

EMT’s reported alcohol on Gauthier’s breath, but she disputed she was drunk.

Bustillo’s attorney, Katherine Loftus, also claims “Miss Gauthier had been drinking heavily that day and the allegations are that she was in bed with the child and the child subsequently died.”

25 Investigates caught up with Gauthier on a recent June day outside of court following a restraining order hearing for Bustillo.  We asked if she had been intoxicated the day Luka died.  She denied the allegation.

Luka had just moved back in with Gauthier the day before his death, despite “persistent concerns” of her “sobriety regarding alcohol use, " according to the DCF documents we reviewed.

The paperwork also indicates Luka’s pediatrician told DCF “Luka remaining in his father’s care was the safer option.”

“They essentially deemed the mother fit and [a judge] deemed me unfit although I had been the one raising all the red flags,” Bustillo said.   The DCF file notes repeated calls by Bustillo where he expressed concern for Luka in the care of his mother.

Luka lived with Bustillo in Framingham until was arrested for domestic violence.

According to a Revere police report, Bustillo “poured a cold beverage” over Gauthier, “pushed her onto the edge of the bed and eventually the floor.” Officers noted “at least three similar incidents in the past two months.”.    Bustillo denies he assaulted Gauthier and reports indicate there was no previous psychical altercations between the parents before Bustillo’s arrest.

A battle over who should care for Luka that started when he was alive, now rages after this death.

Bustillo wants Luka buried locally in a family plot he’s chosen at a Natick cemetery; while Gauthier wants Luka to be cremated and with her family in Minnesota.

“I made all the arrangements. I figured everything out for her and all she has to do is agree. She doesn’t have to pay for anything,” Bustillo said.

We shared the facts of Luka’s case with Wendy Murphy, a former prosecutor who teaches at New England Law.

“It’s an unusual case, to put it mildly,” she said. “The fact that the mom had primary legal custody at the time of the child’s death gives her a thumb on the scale. But there’ll be some pressure on the court to let the child be buried here because his is where the child lived.”

A judge will ultimately determine Luka’s final resting place.

Gauthier says she’s hopeful she and Luka’s father will find a resolution that will make both of them happy. She is being represented in the probate case by attorney Phil Tracey. He declined 25 Investigates’ request to comment on the case.

Meanwhile, Bustillo says he just wants to give his son a proper burial soon,

“I haven’t even started the healing process. I haven’t even had a funeral for my three-month-old son,” he said.

The couple’s next court hearing is scheduled for July 5th. Custody of Luka’s remains could be decided then.

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