Mother in Blackstone ‘House of Horrors’ Case Sentenced to 6 to 8 Years in Prison

Erika Murray, 35, of Blackstone, Massachusetts was found not guilty of second-degree murder for the dead babies found in her squalid house

The Blackstone, Massachusetts, mother who was found living with the remains of her three infants in squalid conditions was sentenced to six to eight years in prison on assault and battery and animal cruelty charges, Thursday.

Erika Murray, 35, also faces five years of probation after being found guilty last month of assault and battery causing substantial injury to her two young children as well as animal cruelty. 

According to the court, Murray will be given credit for nearly five years served, meaning she could be eligible for parole in about a year.

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"There is nothing about this case that is normal," said Judge Janet Kenton-Walker.

The judge said she could only take into account the crimes Murray had been convicted of, despite the shocking nature of the case. 

"I cannot punish her, as some might want me to, for the fact that the remains of three babies were found in the closet," Kenton-Walker said.  "She is not convicted of anything having to do that."

The judge added that she took into consideration Murray's mental state at the time of the crimes. 

In June, Kenton-Walker did not find Murray guilty of the two second-degree murder charges she faced or two counts of reckless endangerment in connection to her two oldest children.

At the time, the judge tossed one of the murder charges Murray faced and ultimately found her not guilty of the second murder charge after prosecutors failed to prove that one of the babies born in the squalor was ever alive.

The three dead infants were discovered after the squalid conditions of Murray’s home came to light in September of 2014. State police troopers who responded to the house discovered the skeletal remains of the babies inside carboard boxes in two closets after a neighbor called officials to report she found a toddler and a baby living in deplorable conditions.

Inside the urine and insect-infested home, neighbor Betsy Brown said she discovered two children covered in feces. The 3-year-old and 5-month-old girls were later revealed to be Murray’s daughters, but she denied them and hid her pregnancies. The defendant told her 13-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son she was just babysitting the younger children.

The younger children were severely neglected, according to several witnesses who worked with them.

Dr. Heather Forkey of UMass Medical Center was one of the pediatricians who examined the younger girls.

"We were very concerned that this was a child who had experienced a profound amount of neglect," Forkey testified during the trial. "When she would sit, she would curl her legs into a fetal position that you would expect to see of someone in utero and again not typical of a 3-year-old who at this point normally has learned to walk."

The baby was said to have a flattened head, evidence that she had spent most of her time laying down.

All four of Murray’s living children were surrendered to the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families.

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