Who, age What Where When Last Known Address
Ericka Murray, 31 vermin-infested home

Blackstone, MA

Worcester County

September 11, 2014  
Ray Rivera, 38 vermin-infested home

Blackstone, MA

Worcester County

September 11, 2014  
Type of Crime Other Crimes #/Type of animal(s) involved Case Status Next Court Date /Courthouse
Felony 3 infants murdered; child endangerment cats & dogs Alleged  

A search was underway at a squalid home where the bodies of three infants were found, and authorities had not ruled out the possibility that more bodies may be inside, a prosecutor said.

Photo's courtesy of The Boston Globe

The bodies of three infants have been found in a filthy house where four other children were taken away by authorities last month.

Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early said the bodies were found September 11th inside the home infested with vermin and filled with piles of soiled diapers.

Erika Murray, 31, was arraigned on charges of fetal death concealment out of wedlock, witness intimidation, animal cruelty and two counts of permitting substantial injury to a child. She was ordered held without bail.

Photo courtesy of John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe

Early said investigators with the Massachusetts State Police, Blackstone police and the medical examiner's office would be at the home for the next few days.

The manner and causes of death of the infants who were found inside the home at 23 St. Paul St. have yet to be determined, as well as their genders, Early said.

Photo courtesy of The Boston Globe Crews needed up to 25 biohazard waste containers to remove materials from the home, includes walls covered with feces. Sources said that it appeared children inside the home used piles of feces to leave handprints on some of the walls.

Crews entering the home had to wear protective clothing and gear, and crews leaving the home have to pass through a decontamination process, Early said.

"The house is filled with vermin," he 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." The remains of several cats and a dog were also found inside the home, officials said.

"It's a sad day," Blackstone Police Department Chief Atstupenas said. "At this point here, it's under investigation and I want to thank everyone for their patience at this time."

Neighbors said the smell coming from the home was sickening. "You could definitely tell that it wasn't clean in there. Even in the dead of winter, the window would be open, and when you walked by on the street, you could definitely smell the house -- just dirtiness, definitely wasn't normal," neighbor John Deane said.

Early said two weeks ago someone made a complaint to the Department of Children and Families, and a 6-month-old, a 3-year-old, a 10-year-old and a 13-year-old were removed from the home.

Neighbor Christine Moran said she didn't even know about the baby living in the house. "I'm shocked," she said. "In seven years I've never even seen her pregnant. The only thing I ever saw was her daughter and son. I can't believe it. I never even heard a baby cry."

The children are now in the custody of the DCF, officials said.

Atstupenas said there is no danger to the public and thanked the community for their continued patience.

Update 12/16/14: Mother faces charges of murder, endangerment, animal cruelty

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.

Photo's courtesy of The Boston Globe

Three bodies in total were found amid the squalor at 23 St. Paul Street in Blackstone, a town on the Rhode Island border, and their mother was charged with murder in the deaths of two of them.

Murray 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 Street, was also indicted 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.

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 children.
"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 said "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, said 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." 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.


The Boston Globe