Police Sgt. Says He Found Dead Baby in Box in ‘House of Horrors’
Warning: Some of the details in the story below are graphic and may be disturbing to some readers.
A Massachusetts State Police sergeant described the filth found at the Blackstone "House of Horrors" as being about 2 feet high and needing a snow shovel to begin his search on the property.
Sgt. Keith Egan said Thursday during the third day of Erika Murray's trial that authorities began to remove boxes found in a closet inside the squalid home when they found the remains of a baby.
"We opened a box and discovered the human remains," he said in Worcester Superior Court.
Murray, 35, is facing murder charges for two of the three dead infants found in her insect-infested, urine and feces covered home in September of 2014. Her attorney, Keith Halpern, said there was no evidence she caused the babies' deaths and raised mental illness as a defense on Tuesday.
Throughout Murray's trial, various disturbing details have been revealed. Testimony from a neighbor who discovered the squalid conditions of the home revealed she found two children, ages 3 months and 5 years, inside the house and a statement from the Blackstone Police Department Chief indicated that Murray may have been embarrassed to have had those children. He said he believes she tried to conceal their births since she could not afford to have them.
A second witness on Thursday explained how they estimated the ages of the deceased infants.
Dr. James Pokines, a Boston University medical professor and forensic anthropologist with the state medical examiner's office, said "the remains came to us in an already mummified state."
He was assigned to examine two of the infant bodies. Pokines went on to explain that he examined the babies' teeth to determine they were either in a late fetal or early newborn stage. He was unable to determine their sex.
The defense pressed Pokines' method of determining the children's ages -- he looked for neonatal lines in teeth that he says appear when a child is near the newborn stage or fetal.
Because various studies differed in when the neonatal lines show, the defense suggested Pokines was relying on unreliable forensic evidence to determine the ages of the dead children.
The defense was hard-pressed on Pokines' method to determine the age of the deceased babies because the prosecution must prove that two of the three babies' remains found in Murray's home were once alive in order to continue with the two murder charges the defendant faces.
Medical examiner Dr. Robert Welton said, “The first set of remains appeared to be a human infant in an advanced stage of decomposition and partial mummification.”
Murray had no visible emotional reaction as crime scene photos from when the dead babies were discovered were shown as evidence.
Welton said, “The first infant I believe was wrapped in what appeared to be sweatpants, attached umbilical cord and placenta.”
The medical examiner and forensic anthropologist said all three babies appeared to be right around newborn age.
Pokines said, “The bone size came out matching either a very late fetus or a very early newborn.”
The second and third set of remains were found diapered and dressed in newborn clothes.
Graphic photos even showing the skeletal remains sticking out of yellow baby socks.
Welton said, “The infant had a diaper, over which was the white onesie, over which was the blue, and then I think wrapped in the sweatshirt.”
Testimony continues Friday at 9am – and we are expecting to see the video of Murray’s police interview shown in court.
Murray is the mother of all seven children that were in the house: the two children found alive by a neighbor, a 10-year-old boy, a 13-year-old girl, and the three dead infants discovered in the home. Gilmore said Murray told him that her husband, Ray Rivera, fathered those children.
The living children were removed from the home by authorities.
For live updates on the trial, click here for NBC10 Boston reporter Alysha Palumbo's Twitter feed.