Tragedy in Blackstone
As the scene in Blackstone, MA continues to unfold, Erika L. Murray, 31, is being held at a woman’s prison in Framingham, charged with concealing fetal death and permitting substantial injury to a child.
Police found the remains of three infants in Erika L. Murray’s home last week. It is uncertain if the infants were born alive, stillborn, or were the results of a miscarriage. Murder charges could be filed, if it is found that the deaths could have been prevented.
The alleged father, Ramon Rivera III, of Murray’s additional four living children, claims to only have fathered two, has not been charged with child endangerment or concealing of the deaths.
Instead, Rivera has been charged with minor drug charges. Records indicated that a neighbor complained to police about a baby crying, but instead found pre-bagged marijuana and marijuana plants in the basement.
Additionally, when police entered the home, they found two young children on the second floor, aged three-years and five-months, suffering from hygienic neglect.
The neighbor who called the police said that Murray’s ten-year-old son, who had been playing with her son, asked for assistance in stopping the crying baby.
She had never thought four children lived there and was only aware of Murray’s two eldest children.
The neighbor told WBZ-TV that when she entered the room, everything was covered in filth.
“Everything has maggots on it. Everything had feces on it, so I took my shirt off,” said the woman to WBZ-TV “There were soiled diapers piled two feet high and also there were remains of several animals laying around.”
When police arrived, she was holding the infant while trying to distract the toddler. When talking to WBZ, she said that the infant “didn’t act like she had ever been held before. She didn’t know how to, like, hold onto me.” Child Support Services said the toddler didn’t know how to speak either.
Police asked her to leave when a door within the house was kicked down and an overwhelming stench could be detected.
Murray told authorities that all four children are hers.
In a statement released to the public on Monday, Rivera, Murray’s longtime boyfriend said did not want to have more than two children.
Keith Halpern, Murray’s attorney, does not believe that Rivera was confined to the basement, since there was no bathroom or bedroom.
Therefore, Rivera saw the living conditions within the house, and knew of Murray’s secret life. Yet, Murray also wrote a written statement to police saying she had not been in the basement for five months and nothing down there belonged to her.
As for the four living children found in the home the 13-year-old and 10-year old have been placed under the care of their paternal grandparents. The two younger children, 3-year-old and 5-month-year-old, have been placed in foster care to receive treatment.
The cleanup, which began last week, for the small home is expected to cost $20,000-$40,000, with three dumpsters worth or trash and 21 containers of bio-hazardous material. This bill will be sent to the homeowner, Rivera’s sister.
An autopsy on the remains of the three infants found in a locked room of the house is expected to be performed by a state medical examiner.
Social workers who are working with Murray, and her children say in their experience, they have never seen a situation as disturbing. The horror has believed to be going on for months, and speculation to years.
The time range can be calculated through the animal corpses, pile of diapers that stacked 2 feet high, the children coated in feces, the vermin infestation, and lastly the remains of the three dead babies.
Each child suffered at various levels. The 13-year-old-girl had allegedly suffered her life. Tied to a toilet when not confined to a crib, snarled at, scratched, and beaten by her father when she made a sound. Authorities claim she was never properly taught to speak.
Officials say the 3-year-old and 5-month-old suffered great neglect as they were kept hidden in isolation from their own brother and sister, as well as the outside neighborhood who did not know of their existence.
It will take years, experts say, to reverse the children’s development after the isolation and neglect. The 3-year-old was found unable to speak, underweight, and showed signs to small amounts of daylight exposure.
“Depriving the brain very early in life has very insidious effects,” said Charles Nelson, a professor of pediatrics and neuroscience at Harvard Medical School.
This situation is ongoing. Stay tuned to The Suffolk Voice for updates.