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 1,150-square-foot home.
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.