BLACKSTONE, Mass. (WPRI) — A woman who lives inside the home where the remains of three infants were discovered by police appeared before a judge at Uxbridge District Court Friday morning.
Erika Murray, 31, was ordered held without bail following her arraignment on several charges including fetal death concealment out of wedlock; witness intimidation; animal cruelty; two counts of permitting substantial injury to a child.
Not guilty pleas were entered on her behalf.
District Attorney Joseph Early Jr. confirmed the bodies of three infants were discovered Thursday inside Murray’s St. Paul Street home. He said the house was in deplorable condition.
“The house is filled with vermin. We have flies, we have bugs, we have used diapers… in some areas as much as a foot-and-a-half to two-feet high,” Early said during a news conference on Thursday night.
Murray is not charged with the infants’ deaths.
As of Friday morning, it was unclear if Murray was the mother of the three babies. Early said the medical examiner was working to confirm the infants’ genders, as well as the manner and cause of death.
Four Children Removed
Early said four other children aged 13 years, 10 years, 3 years, and 6 months old were removed from the house last month after a neighbor notified police about their living conditions. Those four children were placed in state custody.
“A neighbor was approached by one of the children in the house with regards to a child that was crying,” Early said. “It’s safe to say that the child was in very rough shape. It was a six-month-old, there was feces on the baby.”
The children are now in the custody of the Department of Children and Families, who said they had no cases involving the family prior to receiving the report August 28.
According to Blackstone Police Chief Ross Atstupenas, state records indicate Murray is the mother of the two older children. However, he said no birth records existed for the two younger children.
As detectives continued their investigation into the youngest children, he said police sought warrants to search the home.
After receiving the warrant, an officer conducted an initial search Wednesday. At that time, Atstupenas said the officer “located the body of what appeared to be a newborn baby, tucked into the back of a closet.”
The following day, police in hazmat gear returned to the home and discovered two additional bodies believed to have been newborn babies. He said the skeletal remains of several animals, including cats and a dog, were also found inside.
Neighbor Marilynn Soucy told Eyewitness News that her granddaughter reported adverse odors coming from the home on her way to the bus stop.
“They could smell things as they walked by. Urine smell,” she said.
Neighbors of the sleepy town just over the Rhode Island line said they are stunned by the chain of events.
“Unbelievable. There were rumors, but hearing the DA confirming it? Are you kidding me? I mean unfortunate, but three?! That doesn’t happen in Blackstone,” said neighbor Dave Villandry.
It is unclear when the residents moved into the St. Paul Street home, but neighbors believe it was three to four years ago.