Body of one baby “literally stuffed inside a backpack”
By Dave Andrusko
In a story that is hard to write but harder to read, a 31-year old Massachusetts woman has been charged with the deaths of three of her seven children. The infants’ skeletal remains were found after Erica Murray’s ten-year-old son went to a nearby house to ask neighbors if they knew how to stop a baby from crying.
She pled not guilty to two counts of murder, neglect, abuse, reckless endangerment, concealing a fetal death and even animal cruelty.
Arraigned in Worcester County District Court, Murray showed no emotion as she quietly answered “not guilty” nine times as the charges were read out loud, according to CNN. She is being held on a $1 million bail.
Murray was originally charged with fetal death concealment after the children’s remains were found in September.
The bodies were found in the Blackstone home that Murray shared with her live-in boyfriend Ramon Rivera, 38, and four of her other living children, all between the ages of five months and thirteen years old. The four other children were removed by the state in September.
“The children were removed from the home, covered in feces and severely malnourished,” the Examiner reported. “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, described as the father of the children, is being held on a $100,000 bond. “He was charged with assault and battery causing substantial injury, reckless child endangerment, and an unrelated charge of growing marijuana inside of the home,” the Examiner reported.
However “Both Rivera and Murray maintain that he not only never knew about the three infants he fathered that died in his home, he also was somehow unaware of two of the four living children removed from the 1,150-square-foot home,” CNN reported.
When police arrived, Assistant Worcester District Attorney John Bradley said, the pediatricians literally had to clean maggots out of the ears of a three-year-old child found at the home so she could hear correctly.
“The smell of human and animal feces was overwhelming. There was trash throughout the home,” Bradley said at the arraignment. “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 Examiner reported that Murray’s attorney, Keith Halpern, 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.”