BLACKSTONE, Mass. (AP) — The bodies of three infants were found in a Massachusetts house filled with vermin and piled high with soiled diapers, where four other children were removed by authorities last month, a prosecutor said.
Detectives investigating a case of reckless endangerment of children found the bodies Thursday at the house in Blackstone, about 50 miles southwest of Boston on the Rhode Island border.
Worcester County 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. No criminal charges have been filed in connection with the deaths.
Four other children, including a 6-month-old baby, were removed from the house last month after a neighbor notified police about their living conditions, Early said. Those children are in state custody.
A woman who lives at the home was arrested on charges related to the living conditions at the house, according to police. Prosecutors said Erika Murray, 31, would be arraigned Friday on charges including intimidation of a witness. It was not immediately known whether she had an attorney.
Investigators working in the small house were wearing hazmat suits, and were decontaminated when they left, the prosecutor said.
“The house is filled with vermin,” Early said. “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. The house is in a deplorable condition.”
Early said children, ages 13, 10, 3 and 6 months old were removed from the house Aug. 28. The prosecutor said one of the children in the house approached a neighbor about a child who wouldn’t stop crying. Early said the 6-month-old was found covered with feces lying on a bed.
Marilynn Soucy, 68, who lives a few doors down from the house, said in a telephone interview she’s still in shock at the news in the neighborhood where she has lived for 35 years.
“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 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.”
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 from the home.
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.
Marcelo reported from Boston.