Woman Faces Trial After Police Find Three Dead Babies in Closets, One Stuffed in a Backpack

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 17, 2014   |   5:23PM   |   Boston, MA

A Massachusetts woman faces trial after authorities found the bodies of three dead babies in closets in her home. One of the babies reportedly lived for hours after birth.

Erika Murray told police one of the three dead babies found in her squalid home was born alive and lived for a number of days before she discovered the infant dead. The 31-year-old reportedly told police she put the baby down for a nap in a bassinet in the basement and returned later to find the baby dead.

erikamurrayThe baby was described in court by a prosecutor during her trial this week as having a “fairly full head of hair” and the court heard that that baby’s dead body had been stuffed in a backpack and tossed into a closet. The baby was one of the two deceased infants dressed in diapers and onesies that authorities found.

The medical examiner’s office is working to determine the infants’ causes of death.

Murray faces charges of fetal death concealment, witness intimidation and permitting substantial injury to a child.

Authorities rescued Murray’s four children from her filthy home on August 28 after a neighbor discovered the unfathomable squalor and the 3-year-old and 5-month-old daughters Murray kept hidden in her home.  The woman also has a 13-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son. Investigators found the remains of the three infants in the older children’s bedroom closets when they returned with search warrants in September. One of the dead babies had an umbilical cord and the remains of a placenta still attached.

Here is more background on the case:

The 31-year-old’s attorney, Keith Halpern, said his client told investigators she placed one of her babies in a bassinet to take a nap, according to the Boston Herald. When she returned about two hours later, the child was dead, Murray allegedly told police.

Investigators found one baby in a backpack inside a bedroom closet and the remains of two other babies in another bedroom closet, the AP reported. Prosecutor John Bradley said on Tuesday that since the remains of two of Murray’s babies were wearing diapers and clothing, this indicates they were not stillborn.

“They had diapers on. They had onesies on. They were clothed, which would certainly seem to prove that at least two of the babies were alive for some period of time before they died,” Bradley said according to the Boston Herald.

But Halpern said just because two of babies were clothed does not mean they were alive at birth. Murray, who has four other live children, has shown signs of mental illness and needs to undergo a mental health evaluation, Halpern said.

It was Murray’s four children that led police to the grim discovery inside her squalid Blackstone home. In August, her 10-year-old son sought the help of a neighbor to quiet a crying baby, the AP reported. The neighbor entered the home to find a 5-month-old and a 3-year-old in separate bedrooms, covered in their own feces.

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Massachusetts Department of Children and Families swooped in and removed the four children from their mother’s home. Police later returned with a search warrant and found the dead babies after interviewing the two eldest kids, ages 10 and 13.

Murray reportedly hid the existence of the youngest children from their father Raymond Rivera, who was also her live-in boyfriend, by making him believe she was babysitting them.

“There are people who are skeptical of mental illness being raised as a defense in any criminal case,” Halpern told the AP.