DETROIT (AP) — A Detroit mother was charged Wednesday with murder and torture in the slayings of two of her children whose bodies were found last week in a deep freezer inside the family’s eastside apartment.
The new charges against Mitchelle Blair, 35, include two counts each of felony murder, premeditated murder and torture, the Wayne County prosecutor’s office said in a news release.
Blair was arraigned last week on five counts of first-degree child abuse, but amended charges were expected after the Wayne County medical examiner’s office classified the deaths of Stoni Ann Blair and Stephen Gage Berry as homicides. The office said both died from multiple blows and that Stephen also had “thermal injuries.”
Blair will be arraigned Thursday on the updated charges during a probable cause hearing. The murder charges carry mandatory life in prison upon conviction. Her attorney, Wyatt Harris, declined to comment Wednesday. Blair is jailed on a $1 million bond.
Court officers who were carrying out an eviction March 24 found the frozen corpses in a deep freezer at the home in the Martin Luther King Apartments.
Investigators believe Stephen was 9 when he died in August 2012 and that Stoni was 13 when she died the following May.
Blair’s surviving children, a 17-year-old girl and 8-year-old boy, have been placed into a relative’s care. The state also made a filing last week to end Blair’s parental rights.
The 17-year-old told child welfare officials that their mother 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.”
In the court filing, the state Department of Human Services said the 17-year-old also told them that after Blair killed Stephen, his body was wrapped in a bed linen and put in the freezer.
The daughter told officials that in May 2013, Stoni incensed their mother by saying she didn’t like either of the surviving siblings, and the mother strangled Stoni with a T-shirt and placed a plastic bag over her mouth.
The oldest girl said she was forced her to put her sister’s body in the freezer, the agency wrote.