WORCESTER, Mass. — A woman was indicted on two murder charges after the skeletal remains of three babies were found in her squalid home in September, a district attorney announced Tuesday.
Thirty-one-year-old Erika Murray has been held on $1 million bail after pleading not guilty to earlier charges, including fetal death concealment.
“I have never seen anything like the facts in this case,” Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early said at a news conference Tuesday to discuss the indictments against Murray and her live-in boyfriend Raymond Rivera, 38, the children’s father, who was charged with child abuse. “Everyone who went into that house, to a person, said they’d never seen anything like it.”
Murray’s attorney, Keith Halpern, said Tuesday he’s disappointed prosecutors decided to upgrade the charges.
“There’s no evidence that she did anything to cause the death of any of these infants,” Halpern said. “There’s no evidence of how they died.”
The couple’s four children, ranging from 5 months to 13 years old, were removed from the house in Blackstone in late August and placed in state custody after one of the older children went to a neighbor for help with a crying baby. Prosecutors said the 5-month-old and a 3-year-old were found covered in their own feces and had been severely neglected.
Police later searched the house and found the babies’ remains in bedroom closets.
The house was infested with rodents and insects, piled high with dirty diapers and contained dead animals. Workers in hazmat suits spent days cleaning out the house, which was later demolished. It was owned by Rivera’s sister.
Rivera is charged with child abuse and neglect related to the two younger children. Prosecutors said DNA showed he is the father of all seven.
Rivera pleaded not guilty to two counts of assault and battery on a child, two counts of reckless endangerment of a child, two counts of animal cruelty and one count of illegally growing marijuana. His bail was set at $100,000.
Rivera had said he lived in the basement and had no idea what was going on in the rest of the house, but a prosecutor said at his arraignment that Rivera slept with Murray every night in a room near where the younger children were.
Murray also was indicted on 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. The murder charges relate to the bodies of two infants found wearing diapers and one-piece infant outfits.
Halpern has said Murray has mental health issues and that she told police she found one of the babies dead after she put the child down for a nap.
Murray is to be arraigned Dec. 29. Rivera has a pretrial conference Jan. 14.