DETROIT (AP) — A teenager told authorities that her mother killed two siblings and forced her to put one of the bodies in the freezer of their Detroit home where both were found by an eviction crew.
Details of death and extreme abuse emerged Thursday as Mitchelle Blair appeared in court, two days after the bodies of a 9-year-old son, Stephen Berry, and 13-year-old daughter, Stoni Blair, were discovered.
Blair, 35, is charged with child abuse, but she could face murder charges when the bodies thaw and autopsies are performed, prosecutors said. Bond was set at $1 million. An attorney hasn’t been assigned.
The Michigan Department of Human Services is taking steps to end Blair’s rights to two other children, a 17-year-old daughter and an 8-year-old son. In a court filing, the state said the teen described a house of horror, where she and her surviving brother were beaten with an extension cord and piece of wood, hit with a hot curling iron and burned with a clothing iron.
“Blair tortured Stephen for approximately two weeks prior to his death by tying a belt around his neck, throwing hot water on him while in the shower and putting a plastic bag over his head,” the state said, quoting the 17-year-old.
Stephen was “unresponsive” on Aug. 30, 2012, and Blair wrapped his body in bed linen and put him in the freezer, the state said.
Nine months later, Blair became “enraged” when Stoni said she didn’t like her surviving siblings and strangled the girl with a T-shirt and suffocated her with a plastic bag, the department said.
Blair then made the teen “put Stoni in the deep freezer following her death,” the agency said.
The 8-year-old boy also was aware that his sister and brother were killed and subsequently placed in the freezer, the department said.
Medical exams revealed evidence of abuse, including numerous scars, on the children. The teenager said neither she nor her siblings have attended school for two years.
Earlier Thursday, Blair appeared in court on child abuse charges via a video feed from a police lockup. Magistrate Renee McDuffee entered a not-guilty plea on her behalf.
“The charges in this matter are so heinous,” McDuffee said in explaining the $1 million bond.
The state said it investigated allegations of abuse in 2002 and 2005. Blair was referred to counseling.
The state said the two fathers of Blair’s surviving children are unfit to care for them. Together they owe $50,000 in child support and haven’t seen the kids in two to three years.