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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Erika Murray's Squalid House of Horrors

     In 2001, 17-year-old Erika Murray met a 25-year-old McDonald's employee from Framingham, Massachusetts named Ramon Rivera. They moved into his parents' home where less than a year later she gave birth to their first child. Three years later, when they were expecting their second child, they moved into a home a few blocks from the police department in Blackstone, Massachusetts, a town of 10,000 on the Rhode Island state line 50 miles southwest of Boston. The dwelling was owned by Rivera's sister who resided there as well. At that time Rivera had a job at a Staples office supply store as a sales clerk.

     In 2006, Rivera's sister moved out of the house. A year after that, a social worker with the Department of Children and Families (DCF) visited the house on St. Paul Street following a complaint of filthy living conditions. The DCF employee recommended some household upgrades. Because the children didn't seem in danger, the social worker closed the case.

     After Ramon Rivera made it clear to Erika Murray that he didn't want any more children, Erika, in 2011, gave birth to a girl. Somehow she had managed to keep the birth a secret. To conceal the true identify of the infant, she told Rivera she was babysitting the child for another woman. In April 2014, Murray, in secret, gave birth to the couple's fourth child. She explained away that baby with the same babysitting story. As a result of the secrecy surrounding the births of her last two children, there are no official records of their existence.

     On August 28, 2014, the second oldest child in the house went to a neighbor and asked, "How do you get a baby to stop crying?"

     The neighbor entered the house on St. Paul Street with the 10-year-old boy and was shocked by what she encountered. The crying 5-month-old was covered in feces. Inside the dwelling there were piles of trash one to two feet deep that included used diapers. The neighbor called the police.

      Police officers and DCF personnel found the interior of the Murray/Rivera house infested with flies, various other bugs, and mice. The four children were immediately removed from the dwelling and placed into temporary foster care.

     Officers also found, in the basement of the house, a marijuana plant beneath a grow-light. Officers also came across jars of marijuana buds and bags of cannabis. Officers booked Rivera into the Worcester County Jail on charges of possession and cultivation of marijuana with the intent to distribute.

     On Wednesday night, September 10, 2014, police officers in Hazmat suits armed with a search warrant returned to the 1,500 square foot house. Amid the squalor they found a dead dog and two dead cats. In a closet they discovered the remains of a baby. The following day, searchers recovered the bodies of two more infants.

     On September 10, at his marijuana charges arraignment, the judge released the 37-year-old Rivera from custody on his own recognizance.
 
     The younger children, the two born in secret, had spent their lives inside that house. The 3-year-old had poor muscle tone and couldn't walk. The baby showed signs of having lived entirely in the dark and had maggots in its ears.

     Murray's court-appointed attorney, Keith Halpern, said this to reporters about his client: "She was frozen in this nightmare. She couldn't get out of it." The attorney telegraphed his defense by suggesting that Murray was mentally ill.

     On Tuesday, October 14, 2014, Worcester County prosecutor John Bradley announced that at least two of the infants whose remains were found in Murray's house had been alive for some period of time. The children were dressed in onesies and diapers. A third infant was found in a backpack.

     The judge, at Murray's October 14 bail hearing set the 31-year-old mother's bond at $1 million. Earlier, at her arraignment, she had pleaded not guilty to all charges.

     Murray's boyfriend and the father of her children, Ramon Rivera III, claimed that he did not know about the dead infants. The authorities did not charge him in connection with the gruesome discoveries inside his house. According to the prosecutor, Murray had instructed her two oldest children to lie to their father about the babies.

     On December 29, 2014, a grand jury sitting in Worcester, Massachusetts indicted Erika Murray on two counts of murder, one count of fetal death concealment related to the remains of the three babies, and two counts of assault and battery in connection with the neglected and abused children. According to prosecutor John Bradley, two of the dead babies had lived from one week to a month.

     In speaking to reporters, the prosecutor said that the defendant had admitted to investigators that knowing that her boyfriend didn't want any more children after the first two, they continued to have unprotected sex. She gave birth to all of the babies in the home's only bathroom, and birthed the children herself. She hid their tiny corpses among the trash in the squalid dwelling.

     At her arraignment hearing, Murray pleaded not guilty to all five of the grand jury charges. Her attorney, Keith Halpern, argued that the prosecution had no physical evidence regarding how long the babies had been alive or how they had died. He said, "The forensic pathologist testified before the grand jury that it was impossible to determine the cause of death of all three dead infants. The evidence of severe harm to the younger children is clear. The issue in this case is Ms. Murray's state of mind. The children were not the only ones that never left that house. She lived in those conditions for years and hardly ever left that house."

     Outside the courthouse, in speaking to reporters, the defense attorney said that his client had laid one of the babies down for a nap, came back an hour or two later and found the infant dead.

     On December 22, 2016, defense attorney Helpern argued at a preliminary hearing that the police search of the defendant's house on September 10, 2014 exceeded the scope of the warrant and was therefore unconstitutional. As a result, according to the attorney, the evidence recovered pursuant to that search was inadmissible

     On March 13, 2017, Judge Janet Kenton-Walker denied the defense motion to suppress the evidence produced by the search in question. That meant that the murder case would proceed to trial. In the meantime, Murray was held, without bond, at the Western Massachusetts Regional Correctional Center in Worcester. 

9 comments:

  1. I think the Blackstone police did an excellent job with this case for being such a small town and small Department I definitely have to commend them for all their hard work and effort also it's not dcyf fault because I'm sure when they first went to investigate they only met the two children that appeared to be well taken care of and other than the house being filthy they were not being neglected it's not like dcyf had the authority to search her house so stop blaming them. This should be a lesson to all women who stay with men because of finances the children should have came first plain and simple and she should have kicked him to the curb and got a job feel sorry for her in a sense but she had family she could have gotten help easily

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    1. Shes the one who kept having them, one after another, not even making him wear a condom, but hes the one you blame!?give me a break!! He is the one who was working his ss off trying to support his family, while she was being a slob and not cleaning that pig sty! And not looking after her children and babies, and lying her ass off!

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    2. U r a friggen idiot. "He lived in the basement" and didnt know pls. He was a big loser.

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    3. OMG! Now just because Mr. Rivera is a "working man" does not justify he didn't have some part in this whole case. He could have also made sure that they BOTH had some kind of protection to prevent bringing any more children into that type of environment. Okay ill give you that, Mr. Rivera is a working man, but then why is it that they arrested him with intent to grow and sell canabis. Now, he stayed in that same home with this 31 year old woman of a slob, slept in that same bed at night with her and heard the same crys from those kids just as she did... how on earth can you not know those are your kids when they are there ALL the time!!? Whether she just "babysitting " or not you would have figured out by now that something is up. Or you the most dumbest person! So just saying that this so called "man" had no knowledge about what went on in that house is not even agruement. The fact is that he had more to blame as she did, he's the man of the house, Both of them should have maintained it. And it shouldn't have gotten this out of controlled. These children that are alive now, will permanently be forever scarred physically, emotionally, or both, and the 3 infants that were never given an opportunity at life... well, thats a dam shame. If you ask me, they both need to do time for it all.

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  2. The prima facie facts of the case indicate Ms. Murray suffers from severe mental illness. I would rather see her confined to a psychiatric facility than sentenced to prison. Unfortunately, there are few long-term mental institutions left. She will probably draw a life sentence in a correctional facility. I'm a pretty hardboiled person, but I could barely look at many of the photos of that house. And to think those monsters let two babies just starve to death is the stuff of nightmares.

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  3. I have seen that tiny house, which has since been town to the ground.It is not possible that Ramon Rivera did not know of the existence of his other children. Those were his babies and he got off and let Murray take all the blame. That is not justice.

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  4. He knew there were kids there, he was told that she was babysitting them. So he just didn't know they were his. Does anybody know how the 4 living children are doing now?

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  5. She said she was babysitting the 2 younger kids found alive..not the 3 infants that died. .supposedly those babies were always hidden.

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  6. This is beyond horrific. I am not excusing the behavior of either of these adults (refuse to call them parents) but judging by appearances neither appear very intelligent. I could be wrong but I would like to see the information on both the intelligence and psychiatric evaluations. If it is proven they are above impaired levels then seek the maximum sentences available; otherwise, spread some blame on the parents of these breeders.

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