Cleanup crews tackle squalid home after infants found dead

PHOTOS: Images from inside the home taken during a drug bust in August View gallery >>

BLACKSTONE, Mass. (WPRI) – Removal crews returned Monday to a condemned home in Blackstone where investigators say the bodies of three infants were discovered last week.

Crews worked all weekend and were only able to get through emptying two rooms of the squalid home on St. Paul Street. The team of exterminators and cleaners worked to manage the bio-hazard contamination by boxing up much of the inside of the home, which will be removed in one truckload on Monday. Removal crews originally predicted they would have 12 decontamination boxes, but that number is now near 25.

Town officials revealed on Sunday that crews also found the bodies of a dog and cat inside of the home.

Bill Walsh, Chairman of the Blackstone Board of Health, described the home as horrific.

“The worst I’ve ever seen in my career working for the board of health and inspection services,” he said. “I’m surprised that they weren’t all very very sick. Surprisingly, I don’t know how anybody would possibly even consider entering that residence.”

The cost of the cleanup has already soared past $20,000, which includes police and fire detail in the area, according to town officials. Town Administrator Daniel Keyes said the various expenses are all being billed to the home’s owner, and not the town.

“No one has seen anything like this…or even fathomed it. I think as time goes on and we find out really what went on in there we’re still going to be questioning and in shock,” said Blackstone Town Administrator Daniel Keyes.

Walsh said crews are taking precautions outside to protect the neighbors.

“We’re taking necessary steps to put bug traps outside, rat traps outside, so we’re confident that the neighborhood is going to return to normalcy,” he explained.

It has not yet been decided whether or not the home will be demolished. Keyes said that decision will be made in the coming weeks.

Four young children were removed from the home in late August after a resident alerted authorities to the squalid conditions in the home. The house was condemned shortly after, and police returned Wednesday to investigate further.

PHOTOS: Images from inside the home taken during a drug bust in August View gallery >>
PHOTOS: Images from inside the home taken during a drug bust in August View gallery >>

An officer searching the interior on September 10 found a newborn baby’s body, which prompted a HAZMAT team to return on Thursday for a more extensive search. Throughout the investigation, two more infants’ bodies were discovered among the garbage, debris, vermin, and piles of dirty diapers.

Erika Murray, 31, was arraigned on several charges Friday related to the living conditions inside of the home and was ordered held without bail. It is unclear how she is connected to three bodies that were discovered. The medical examiner is still working to determine their genders and causes of death.

Over the weekend, Blackstone Police Chief Ross Atstupenas confirmed to Eyewitness News that Raymond Rivera, who lives in the basement of the home, has been charged with possession and cultivation of marijuana. He was not home when the discovery was made.

The Worcester County District Attorney’s Office said they had spoken with Rivera, but have not filed any charges against him regarding the conditions inside the home.

Rivera and Murray are described as boyfriend and girlfriend in that police report.


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