LEOMINSTER, Mass. — The mother of a young child who attended Small People Daycare, a state-licensed facility in Leominster, said the owner lied about a decomposing body that was found on the premises.
Last week, 25 Investigates reported that a dead man, who is believed to have died of a drug overdose, was found at the home day care just down the hall from where young children played and were cared for.
Following our report, a parent contacted 25 Investigates alleging the day care owner, Maria DaSilva, tried to cover up the incident and gave her a different account than what was contained in the police report we obtained.
The mother, who did not want us to use her name, told 25 Investigates the following in an email:
“I was told by Maria DaSilva that when I was going to be picking up my child there would be police at her house. She mentioned to me that her neighbors who live in her multifamily home were arguing. Maria mentioned the guy had died from some medication he took.”
25 Investigates first spoke to DaSilva in late May about a week after the body was discovered. She did not agree to an on-camera interview but invited our crew inside her Leominster home to show us the room where the body of 35-year-old Robert Guzman Cruz was found. The room is through a kitchen and around the corner from where children in her care played and napped.
Speaking through an interpreter, DaSilva told 25 Investigates that Guzman-Cruz only recently began subletting the room for $800 a month and that she did not know him well.
According to police reports obtained from the Leominster Police Department, Guzman-Cruz had, “past addiction problems with cocaine and heroin,” and his death was, “consistent with that of a possible drug overdose.”
After being contacted by the concerned mother, investigative reporter Ted Daniel checked again with Leominster Police. He found two new police reports filed against DaSilva by parents who claim their children were in her care.
One report alleged DaSilva was abusive toward a child with developmental disabilities who was in her care several years ago. The other report alleged she continued to provide childcare services even though her license to operate is currently temporarily inactive. On May 24, DaSilva voluntarily moved her license into inactive status pending the outcome of the investigation involving the dead man.
According to that second report, which was filed just two days after our story about the dead body aired, a father of a different child told police, “Ms. DaSilva denied any involvement and told him that was not her residence and the incident happened next door to her.”
That same father also claimed that DaSilva was running a day care at a new location on Main Street in Leominster. The father, “confirmed he has been transporting daughter to the [new] day care center...for the last 2 weeks,” according to the report.
It also states the father, “after being lied to, he decided to report the new location to the police as he was concerned for the well-being of the other two to four children at the day care.”
25 Investigates went to check out the alleged new location. We watched the building with a hidden camera for four hours on Monday. There was no sign of DaSilva or any indication that children were being dropped off or picked up.
We made several attempts to contact DaSilva about the new allegations and requested comment for this story. Our messages have, so far, gone unanswered.
The Leominster Police documents we reviewed indicate a police officer notified the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC), the agency that oversees day cares in Massachusetts, and the Department of Children and Families (DCF) about the complaint of the new location.
We contacted EEC to see what action the agency was taking. A spokesperson said DaSilva’s license remains inactive and she is currently not authorized to provide childcare, adding that EEC is investigating the complaint.
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