Erica Murray, a Mass. mother of seven, has been charged with the deaths of three of her infants, whose skeletal remains were found in a squalid Blackstone home four months ago. Murray was arraigned in a Worcester court today. The 31-year-old pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder and is being held on a $1 million bail.
Writes CBS Crimesider News on Dec. 29: “Murray had been originally charged with fetal death concealment after the remains were found in her Blackstone home in September, 50 miles southwest of Boston. She pleaded not guilty and was held on $1 million bail. She was indicted on the murder charges earlier this month.”
In September, investigators found three bodies – all infant remains – in the home that Murray lived in with four of her other living children, all between the ages of five months and thirteen years old, and a man identified as live-in boyfriend Ramon Rivera. The children were removed from the home, covered in feces and severely malnourished. The house itself had to be demolished – detectives in Hazmat suits spent days extracting evidence among the waist high filthy diapers, dead rodents and refuse.
Rivera, the father of the children, was charged with assault and battery causing substantial injury, reckless child endangerment, and an unrelated charge of growing marijuana inside of the home. He is being held on a $100,000 bond.
Attorney Keith Halpern, who is representing Murray, said his client was mentally ill. “You want answers in circumstances like this…Mental illness doesn’t always provide those kinds of answers,” Halpern said. “She is mentally ill to the point she was incapable of doing anything.”
Police were tipped off after Murray’s 10-year-old son walked over to a nearby house in September and asked the neighbors if they knew how to stop a baby from crying. The family said the boy was covered in excrement. They called police, whose barracks station was only a few hundred feet from the home.
Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick called the news report at the time a “horrible situation” and echoed what many residents were thinking. “The more you read about, the more I hear about it, the more upsetting it becomes,” Gov. Patrick said.
At the arraignment, Assistant District Attorney John Bradley described the horrific conditions of the home and the children they found inside. “The smell of human and animal feces was overwhelming. There was trash throughout the home,” Bradley said. “The pediatrician determined that the two (youngest children) had been profoundly neglected. The muscle tone of the 3-year old was such that it appeared she had spent most of her young life on her back.” One of the infant skeletons had a “fairly full head of hair” and was “literally stuffed inside a backpack,” Bradley said to the judge.
The pediatricians had to literally clean the maggots out of her ears so that she was able to hear correctly – Assistant Worcester District Attorney John Bradley, describing a 3-year-old found inside of the home
According to CBS Boston, the medical examiner is “still trying to determine how long the infants were alive, if at all.”