US & Canada

US woman charged after baby's bodies found in her house

Erika Murray in court Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Murray's lawyers have said they believe she suffers from mental illness

A Massachusetts woman has been charged with concealing a dead foetus and other counts after the bodies of three infants were found in her home.

Erika Murray, 31, was arrested on Thursday night after a neighbour alerted police over the safety of other children living at the house.

Detectives found the bodies in what they described as a squalid, vermin-infested home.

On Friday Ms Murray pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Those include foetal death concealment, witness intimidation and permitting substantial injury to a child.

Her lawyer said he believed she suffered with mental illness.

"You want answers in circumstances like this... mental illness doesn't always provide those kinds of answers," Ms Murray's lawyer Keith Halpern said after her court appearance.

Body in cupboard

Police were first called to the home in Blackstone when a neighbour was approached by one of the children living there, said Tim Connolly, a spokesman for the Worcester district attorney.

The ten-year boy is reported to have asked the neighbour, "How do you get a baby to stop crying?"

The neighbour went with the boy and found the crying baby covered in faeces.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Police searching the house found the bodies of three infants

Detectives searched the house, described as full of used diapers, squalid and vermin-infested.

They found the body of an infant in a cupboard on Wednesday and the remains of two newborn children on Thursday, said police.

Two other children, aged 13 and 3, were also living in the house.

Police said Ms Murray was the mother of the two eldest children, but no birth certificates have been found for the younger two.

All four children have now been placed in the custody of the state.

The search is still ongoing and police have not ruled out the possibility that other bodies may be found.

A man was also living in the house, but he has not been charged, authorities said.