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Qns. Vill. woman gets prison for voodoo abuse

Sylvenie Thessier (inset) will spend as much as three years in prison for neglecting to immediately take her granddaughter to the hospital after she was set on fire following a voodoo ritual inside this Queens Village home. Inset courtesy Queens DA's office
By Howard Koplowitz

A Queens Village grandmother who admitted to failing to seek medical attention for her 6-year-old granddaughter, critically burned in 2009 during an alleged voodoo ritual at her home, was sentenced to one to three years in prison last week in Queens Supreme Court, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Frantzcia Saintil was admitted to the William Randolph Hearst Burn Center at New York Presbyterian Hospital Feb. 6, 2009, with second- and third-degree burns covering 25 percent of her body — including her face, torso and legs, Brown said.

As part of Frantzcia’s treatment, she was placed in a medically induced coma and hooked up to a respirator.

The girl’s mother, Marie Lauradin, told police she was in the kitchen preparing rice on the stove Feb. 4, 2009, and was transferring the pot from a front burner to the back when her daughter approached her from behind and hit her hand, causing her to spill the pot of boiling water on her daughter, Brown said.

The girl’s grandmother, 72-year-old Sylvenie Thessier, of 89-26 219th St. in Queens Village, who was in the bathroom at the time of the incident, bathed the child and put her to bed around 4 p.m. even though she was aware of the nature and extent of the girl’s injuries, Brown said.

Frantzcia stayed in the bed until her aunt showed up at the home the next day and insisted the girl be taken to the hospital, the DA said.

Lauradin told police that she did not see any burns on her daughter until she was in the hospital, Brown said.

Frantzcia was placed in foster care after being released from the hospital, where she eventually told her foster family a different account of what had happened in February, the DA said.

Her mother allegedly believed in a voodoo practice called “Loa,” which led her to pour an accelerant on the girl’s head and in a circle on the floor, Brown said.

Lauradin then set the circle on fire and placed the girl, who was naked, inside the ring of fire when the accelerant on her body ignited and flames engulfed her, the DA said.

Lauradin, 31, is currently awaiting trial, Brown said.

Although Thessier was at the home at the time, she did not intervene — even after Frantzcia cried out for help, Brown said.

Thessier pleaded guilty last month to reckless endangerment charges before Queens Supreme Court Judge Richard Buchter, who sentenced her April 6 to one to three years in prison.

“This case is a tragic example of how a person expected to care for a child and keep her out of harm’s way did just the opposite when she stood idly by as her daughter allegedly burned her granddaughter during an alleged voodoo ritual despite the child’s cries and the severity of her injuries,” Brown said in a statement. “A prison term in this case is warranted and will hopefully serve as a warning to others who would risk a child’s life in such a manner.”

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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