A mother who lived at a squalid home where the bodies of three infants were found has been ordered held without bail.
Not guilty pleas were entered on Friday on behalf of 31-year-old Erika Murray on charges including fetal death concealment and witness intimidation. She isn’t charged in the deaths.
Meanwhile, the search continued for more possible bodies at the filty, vermin-infested home in Blackstone, Massachusetts where four other children previously were removed into state custody.
The two youngest children have been also receiving medical treatment after showing signs of long-term neglect.
Neither child has birth records. The three-year-old cannot walk, has poor muscle tone and only makes a few sounds, the Boston Globe reported. A six-month-old baby is extremely sensitive to sunlight.
The father of the children apparently did not know he had two younger children, according to investigators.
Ms Murray appeared disheveled as she was arraigned in Uxbridge District Court on Friday morning.
The judge agreed to a request by a prosecutor to seal a file concerning a previous court appearance on reckless endangerment charges related to the two youngest of the four children taken from the home last month.
Murray’s lawyer, Keith Halpern, pointing to the conditions in the home, suggested that his client was mentally ill.
She was held without bail, NECN reported and is due back in court on October 14.
Detectives investigating a case of reckless endangerment of children found the bodies on Thursday at the house in Blackstone, about 50 miles southwest of Boston along the Rhode Island border.
Four other children had been removed from the home two weeks earlier.
Erika Murray, 31, who is believed to be the mother of all seven children, was arrested on charges relating to the foul living conditions, however no criminal charges have been filed in connection with the deaths.
Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early Jr. said the house was in ‘deplorable condition.’ He said authorities don’t know when or how the babies died, or their ages and genders.
The body of one infant was found inside a closet, police said. The two other babies were found on Thursday.
Prosecutors said Murray, 31, would be arraigned on Friday on charges including intimidation of a witness. It was not immediately known whether she had an attorney.
A spokesman for the Blackstone Police Chief told the Boston Globe today that Murray is believed to be the mother of all seven children.
The search of the home, which is just a couple hundred feet away from the town’s police station, is expected to take several days.
The four other children, ages 13, ten, three and six months old, were removed from the house on August 28 after a neighbor notified police about their living conditions.
The prosecutor said one of them approached a neighbor about a child who wouldn’t stop crying. Early said the six-month-old was found covered with feces lying on a bed.
‘I am so disgusted. It hasn’t really registered in my head yet,’ she said. ‘My husband and I raised seven children. We have 11 grandchildren and two great grandchildren. I cannot imagine hurting a child.’
She said she and her husband, Bob, had rarely seen the couple who lived in the house for at least three years, or their children.
She said they occasionally saw the 10-year-old, a boy, playing outside or the woman sit on her porch.
Soucy said she never heard any major complaints about the couple, other than her grandkids noted once that the house smelled bad.
The house, Soucy said, had been renovated extensively before they moved in.
‘If we thought kids were being abused or living in squalor we would have said something,’ she said.
Soucy said the only time there was commotion at the house was when officials removed the children.
The state Department of Children and Families said in a statement Thursday that the children who were living at the home are in state custody. It said the department did not have a case involving the family and that it learned about the situation through a report of possible abuse or neglect.
Early said it’s too soon to know if charges will be filed in the infants’ deaths, or against whom, because investigators don’t even know who was living at the home when they died. It wasn’t immediately clear where the children’s parents were.
Officers on the scene have found swarms of flies, bugs, vermin and ‘piles of used diapers as much as a foot or two high’.
Four other children, aged six months, three, ten and 13 years old, were removed from the house last month after a neighbor who discovered their living conditions notified police.
He said the six-month-old baby was found covered in feces lying on a bed.
The State Department of Children and Families said on Thursday that the children who were living at the home are now in state custody.
On Thursday, 31-year-old Erika Murray was arrested in connection with the appalling living condition but not over the children’s deaths.
Murray is facing several charges, including witness intimidation. She will be arraigned on Friday.