BLACKSTONE, Mass. (AP) — Police responded to several calls in recent years from a home where the remains of three infants were found last week but never had reason to check conditions inside the home, according to police logs released Tuesday.
Erika Murray, 31, who lived in the home, is being held without bail on charges including fetal death concealment and permitting substantial injury to a child. Four children ranging in age from 6 months to 13 years old were removed from the home on Aug. 28 and placed in state custody.
The Blackstone police logs reveal that officers were called to the home seven other times since 2008, the period in which authorities said Murray lived in the house with her boyfriend, Ramon Rivera. Many of the calls involved dogs.
According to an August 2011 entry, police and the town’s animal control officer responded to a call from a concerned neighbor about a dog that was tied up on a leash in the backyard. Police Chief Ross Atstupenas said that based on conditions found outside of the home, officers had no legal reason at the time to enter.
In March 2012, police served documents on a resident of the home for keeping an unlicensed dog, according to the logs, and in December, officers returned to investigate a report of a dog being kept on a cold porch and were told the animal had only been outside for a few minutes.
“While we will all wonder what could have been done to prevent this terrible tragedy, our officers continue to do their jobs well, and no one could have predicted the scene that investigators would find last week,” Atstupenas said in a statement.
Police also released logs dating from 2000-2007 but said those calls involved previous occupants of the home.
The state medical examiner is performing autopsies on the remains of the infants, which were found inside the home after prosecutors obtained search warrants.
Not guilty pleas were entered for Murray at her arraignment last week and her lawyer, Keith Halpern, has suggested she may be mentally ill. Rivera was charged with growing marijuana but has not been charged in connection with the discovery of the remains.
Town officials reported Tuesday they had completed the cleanup of the squalid, vermin-infested home. They said crews filled four trash bins and more than 20 biohazard containers with debris that authorities said included mounds of soiled diapers.
William Walsh, chairman of the town’s Board of Health, said no decision had been made yet on whether the home, which is owned by Rivera’s sister, would have to be torn down.
Blackstone Police Department offers the following context from the logs:
- Calls from 10/13/2000 through 03/21/2007 deal with previous residents of the home or to Raymond Rivera.
- 07/18/2008: Raymond Rivera requests help after locking his keys in his vehicle
- 08/15/2011: Animal Control Officer responds with Blackstone Police to check on the condition of a dog.
- 12/13/2011: Raymond Rivera retrieved his vehicle, which was parked over the line in Woonsocket, R.I.
- 03/20/2012: Animal Control Officer again reviewed outside area, where dog was reportedly kept.
- 03/21/2012: Legal Documents Served – Resident cited for having an unlicensed dog.
- 12/31/2012: Animal Control Officer and Blackstone Police talk to resident about dog reported to be left outside on a cold porch. Resident told police that that had only let the dog outside for a few minutes after it ate.
- 05/19/2014: Erika Murray called Blackstone Police to report an animal had been hit by a car in front of the house.
- 08/28/2014: Blackstone Police conduct welfare check after receiving a call about a baby crying. First time police become aware of living conditions. Department of Children and Families is called in. Investigation begins.