By Tom Dalton
SALEM — The two children whose throats were slashed Sunday night in a horrific attack, allegedly by their own mother, a Gloucester native, are improving.
The Salem school that one of the children attends sent a letter home to parents yesterday with an update.
"I am pleased to report that Jamaal Goodwin's prognosis has been updated," wrote Witchcraft Heights Elementary School Principal Mark Higgins.
Jamaal, 8, is a first-grader at Witchcraft. He was the most seriously injured with what law enforcement officials called a "deep laceration" to his neck. His sister, Erica, 3, also suffered a neck laceration.
"We received notice today that while his situation remains critical, his doctors are optimistic about his recovery," the principal wrote. "His sister, Erica, is alert and speaking to all of the nurses. She is in good spirits."
The children's family also sounded more hopeful.
"As far as we know, things are looking positive," said Deborah Cox, a cousin in Boston. "Jamaal is still in critical condition, but the little one is stable, and that's a blessing."
Information about the children has been limited in the four days since the incident.
In a statement Monday, the Essex County district attorney's office said "no further information on either child's medical condition will be released due to (health) privacy laws."
Children's Hospital Boston, where the children are being treated, also has not released information.
"We are not commenting on the status of the children," a hospital spokeswoman said earlier in the week.
The children are in the custody of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families.
Wayne Cox, 62, an uncle from Atlanta who has driven up to Boston, said he had custody of Jamaal until two years ago, when a Probate Court judge in Boston gave custody to the boy's mother, Tanicia Goodwin, who has been charged with attempted murder in the attack.
On Sunday, Goodwin doused the children with lighter fluid and set the apartment ablaze, according to police.
Cox spoke to state officials yesterday about getting custody of the children, according to his sister, Deborah Cox.
There are reports that Erica's father may be seeking custody of her.
"In the best case, we'd like to see both children together," Deborah Cox said.
In the letter home to parents, the Witchcraft Heights principal concluded: "For the moment, thoughts and prayers are welcome and appreciated. We have been assured that once Jamaal is medically stable, we will be able to send visitors from (Witchcraft). We will have the children make cards and posters to be sent to the hospital."