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Coroner says six-year-old Damari Perry had ‘partially frozen’ organs as family faces charges


The body of six-year-old Damari Perry, found in an alley in Gary, Indiana displayed signs of hypothermia and “partially frozen” internal organs, the coroner in Lake County has said.

The boy’s mother and two other members of the family have been charged in connection to the death of Damari, whose body was discovered on Saturday and which has been described as a homicide by the coroner.

The mother, 38-year-old Jannie Perry, has been charged with first-degree murder; and Damari’s brother, 20-year-old Jeremiah Perry, has been charged with aggravated battery on a child. Another sibling, a juvenile, has also been charged.

It remains unclear if the suspects have retained legal representation to speak on their behalf.

Damari was allegedly held under a cold shower for an extended period of time by family members until he vomited and lost consciousness on 30 December.

Lake County Coroner David Pastrick said in a statement on Tuesday that Damari was found naked in a trash bag and that his body was partially charred, adding that the charring appeared to have occurred after his passing. One of his legs was also bruised.

The statement said that the body showed signs of “extremely cold core temperature, and partially frozen internal organs”. The area has been experiencing very cold weather since the start of this month.

“Based on the above findings and the circumstance the pending cause of death is hypothermia,” the coroner said, with the manner of death being determined to have been homicide.

Damari lived in North Chicago and the case is being handled by the Lake County State’s Attorney in Illinois. Gary is a town located southeast of Chicago, just across the state border.

Police in North Chicago have said that Damari’s body was found close to an abandoned house. Mr Pastrick said that the FBI notified the coroner’s office of the discovery of the body before 5am on Saturday.

Authorities have previously said that the mother and 20-year-old brother reported Damari missing on 5 January, claiming that he was last seen in Skokie, Illinois, around 15 miles (24 km) north of downtown Chicago.

Police have said that the family claimed that Damari’s 16-year-old sister took him to a party in Skokie, where she passed out from drinking and later woke up only to realize that her little brother was missing, NBC Chicago reported.

Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said on Saturday that this version of events is “completely false”. The mother and brother now also face obstruction of justice charges, he added.

Investigators searched for Damari in Gary after interviewing several members of the family, some of them children, according to the office of the prosecutor.

“Our hearts ache over the murder of 6-year-old Damari Perry,” Mr Rinehart said.

North Chicago Police said on Monday that the mother was taken to hospital on Saturday after saying that she felt ill, but additional information concerning her health was not made available.

While she was in police custody during her time in hospital, an appearance in court to decide on her bond has been delayed.


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