Warning: Some of the details in the story below are graphic and may be disturbing to some readers.
The fate of the Massachusetts woman charged with second-degree murder after three dead infants were found in her “House of Horrors” will be revealed Thursday.
Judge Janet Kenton-Walker has reached a verdict in the trial of 35-year-old Erika Murray, who faces charges that include second-degree murder, two counts of assault and battery on a child causing substantial injury, two counts of reckless endangerment of a child, two counts of cruelty to animals and one count of concealing a fetal death.
She initially faced two counts of second-degree murder, but Kenton-Walker tossed one of the charges after prosecutors failed to prove one of the babies born in Murray’s squalid home was ever even alive.
Shocking details were revealed as witnesses took the stand during the trial and graphic photographs were shown in court, exposing the horrid and disturbing environment four of Murray’s children lived in.
Murray’s Blackstone home was filled with garbage, infested by maggots and insects, had feces-covered handprints on the wall and reeked of urine, according to several witnesses.
One state police trooper said he needed to wear a hazmat suit to properly search the house and a police chief said after just 15 minutes in the house, investigators were covered in fleas and insects. Among the filth were three skeletal remains of Murray’s babies.
Authorities found the bodies inside cardboard boxes in two of the home’s closets. One of the babies’ bodies still had the placenta attached and the body of a dead dog was found inside a bag near the first infant. Prosecutors said a second dead baby was found nearby, “diapered and fully clothed, but they were skeletal remains.”
The third dead infant was found in another closet in another room. That child was also diapered and fully clothed.
The sqaulid conditions were discovered by a neighbor who responded to the house after her son asked if she could help him shush a baby.
Neighbor Betsy Brown testified that her 10-year-old son would play with Murray’s 10-year-old son. When Brown’s son went to Murray’s house, he called his mother and said he needed help in getting a baby to stop crying. Brown testified that she didn’t know of any babies in the neighborhood, but went responded to the house anyway.
There, she discovered the filthy conditions and found two girls in the home. The children, 5-months-old and 3-years-old, were covered in feces and prosecutors said they showed signs of severe neglect.
Dr. Heather Forkey of UMass Memorial Medical Center said the 3-year-old lacked the muscle tone you would expect of a preschool-aged child who would be running and playing.
“We were very concerned that this was a child who had experienced a profound amount of neglect,” Forkey said. “When she would sit she would curl her legs into a fetal position that you would expect to see of someone in utero and again not typical of a 3-year-old who at this point normally has learned to walk.”
Murray’s lawyers raised mental illness as a defense.
This post was originally posted at http://www.necn.com/news/new-england/Verdict-Announced-in-House-of-Horrors-Trial-511562342.html.