By Carlotta Mohamed
A Flushing woman who fatally stabbed three infants and two adults at a local daycare center last week was arrested and charged, said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.
Yufen Wang, 52, of 136-19 Cherry Ave., was charged with five counts of second-degree attempted murder and criminal possession of a weapon Monday at Queens County Criminal Court. Queens Criminal Court Judge Toni Cimino and ordered Wang to return to court Oct. 19. If convicted, Wang faces between five and 25 years in prison.
“The defendant in this case is charged with an unimaginable act — an attack on defenseless, innocent babies,” said Brown. “The defendant was hired to care for and protect the infants, sadly she was the danger. This kind of senseless violence can not go unpunished and the defendant now faces a lengthy term of incarceration.”
According to authorities, on Friday, Sept. 21, at approximately 3:44 a.m., police officers from the 109th Precinct arrived at the daycare operated under the name of Mei Xin Care Inc. — located at 43-67 161 St. in Flushing — and found several people with stab wounds.
“There were nine babies — five females and four boys — accompanied by their parents in the three-story house at the time of the incident,” said Juanita Holmes, assistant chief of the New York City Police Department. “Part of the building houses living quarters with multiple families.”
Police recovered a butcher’s knife and a meat cleaver at the scene.
According to police, Wang’s knife attack left a 22-day old female with slashes to her face, chest and ear. A 33-day-old infant girl sustained injuries to her abdomen and back and the youngest of the victims, just 13 days old, suffered knife wounds to her abdomen, face and chest.
The 63-year-old female victim, who was an on-site staffer, was stabbed in the left leg and arm, police said. A father of one of the girls, Meng Xu, 31, was stabbed once in the wrist and left knee while trying to stop Wang’s attack, according to authorities.
Wang, was found unconscious in the basement with self-inflicted slash wounds to her left wrist, Holmes said.
Wang and the victims were treated for their injuries at NewYork-Presbyterian Queens. The victims were in critical but stable condition as of Wednesday night, police said.
The investigation into the incident and search for a motive was ongoing, police said.
The NYPD has not yet determined what kind of business was operated in the building.
“There are speculations as to what kind of business it was — whether they were licensed to do business — and it will be addressed after a thorough investigation,” said Holmes.
The city had received a complaint in 2011 of “screaming children” at the residence, Holmes added, noting that the call came to a city hotline.
However, at a news conference nearby the site, local elected officials noted the daycare center — which lacked proper licensing — was operating as a postpartum facility where new mothers raised their newborns during the first few weeks.
State Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing), said Wang, of Asian-American background, was “in distress, most likely with some mental health illness, and had no business being around infants.”
“They were advertising as a licensed daycare center, but that doesn’t seem like what they were,” Kim said at the Sept. 21 news conference. “Once we have the facts, my colleagues and I will work very closely to close any loopholes in the system and make sure that we will never see this type of ugliness in our community again.”
Kim was joined by City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) and state Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Flushing).
According to Koo, it’s an old Chinese tradition for women to rest and be cared for after a month of giving birth. When family is not available, businesses may fill the caretaker role.
“When you’re alone with no relatives to help you, this kind of facility sounds good to you,” said Koo. “That’s why people come to these kind of facilities to receive service because it’s hard for new mothers to bathe and nurse the babies.”
Stavisky said its important for facilities caring for newborn children and others to undergo proper inspection and licensure.
According to Kim, the facility has been around for 10 years and the owner will be under investigation if he was conducting a business without a proper license.
“That is a felony offense and that is one of the harshest offenses any business could face in the state of New York,” said Kim.
Reach reporter Carlotta Mohamed by e-mail at cmoha