It was a shocking and gruesome scene: Police officers in hazmat suits retrieving dead infants among “mounds of used diapers and feces” from a Massachusetts home back in September.
Three bodies in total were found amid the squalor at 23 St. Paul
Street in Blackstone, a town on the Rhode Island border, and on Tuesday,
their mother was charged with murder in the deaths of two of them.
Erika Murray, 31, was indicted on nine charges in all, according to
Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early. Those charges included
neglect, abuse, reckless endangerment, concealing a fetal death and even
animal cruelty in addition to the murder charges. She’s being held on
$1 million bail.
Her boyfriend, who also lived at 23 St. Paul, was also indicted
Tuesday, but not on charges of murder. Ray Rivera, 38, was indicted on
two counts of assault and battery on a child causing substantial bodily
injury, two counts of reckless endangerment of a child, two counts of
cruelty to animals and one count of cultivating marijuana. He is being
held on $100,000 bail.
“He’s making absolutely no statement at this time other than to
absolutely deny these allegations,” Rivera’s attorney Nicole Longton
said according to CNN affiliate WHDH.
Father says he was unaware of the children
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 ones that the state removed from his
DNA tests determined that Rivera was the father of all seven, according to WHDH.
“It is a mystery to me how Mr. Rivera could have failed to notice
(the) numerous pregnancies (of) the woman with whom he shared a bed,”
Murray’s attorney told CNN in September. “It’s a mystery to me how he
could have failed to realize that there were two children living under
the same roof as him, and he didn’t know about it.”
That attorney, Keith Halpern, told CNN Tuesday that according to
Murray, only one of the three infants was born alive, and it lived only a
very brief time.
“(Murray) put it down for a nap, she left it alone for an hour or two and when she came back, it wasn’t breathing,” he said.
Halpern said he had not yet read the grand jury proceedings, but it
was his understanding that “there was no evidence presented indicating
Erika had done anything to cause the death of any of the children,” and
that the medical examiner “testified that there was no determination
made regarding the cause or means of death.”
Early said the murder charges stem from the two infants who were
found dressed in onesies and diapers, but according to Halpern, that is
not an indication that they were ever alive.
“That is nothing more than an inference that the baby was ever alive.”
CNN affiliate WCVB
reported in October that the skeleton of one of the three infants was
found stuffed inside a backpack inside the closet of the bedroom shared
by the two children Rivera knew about.
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