We perish because we know not… #TLENews
Two children found dead in a Detroit town house’s deep freezer Tuesday hadn’t been seen for so long, neighbors have trouble remembering their names.
The 11-year-old boy and 15-year-old girl are remembered as well-mannered and well-behaved. But when other kids went outside for school or to play in the humming, low-income housing complex on St. Aubin, just east of downtown, the children didn’t join them.
“I been staying down here my whole life, and I never saw them outside, to the point where I thought that they actually moved out,” said Rocky Ashford, 18, who lives in a neighboring town house at the Martin Luther King Apartments.
The grisly discovery was made Tuesday by a crew that had come to the home to evict the family. Police said the mother was taken into custody in another unit at the same complex as a person of interest in the case, but no formal criminal charges have been leveled this morning.
She was identified by neighbors as Mitchelle Blair, 35. Court documents obtained by the Free Press show Blair has four children, ages 8, 11, 15 and 17, by two men.
A person familiar with the investigation this morning said Blair has confessed. The source said Blair told police that she killed her son first, then her daughter later.
At a news conference today, Detroit Police Chief James Craig said the case the case continues to be an active homicide investigation, and he did not take questions from reporters.
“As you can imagine, this is a very complex case,” he said.
He said the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office will be performing autopsies within the next couple of days to determine the cause of death.
Craig asked for privacy for the two children who were taken into protective custody.
“They’ve been through a lot, as you can imagine,” he said.
The Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office said this morning it has to let the bodies thaw naturally.
“The bodies are still frozen, so the autopsies are tentatively scheduled for tomorrow,” spokesman Ryan Bridges said this morning via email. “Autopsies can’t be completed while the bodies are still frozen. We monitor the thawing process while allowing them to thaw naturally so any potential evidence can be preserved.”
Two other children, a 17-year-old girl and an 8-year-old boy, were also living in the home, even as their siblings lay frozen in the small deep freezer just inside the front door. Those two children also were rarely seen outside. They were placed in protective custody.
From outside, the home appears to be no different from neighboring residences. It’s a middle unit connected to others in a long row in the 800 block of St. Aubin.
The two children, whose bodies police say may have been frozen for a year or more, hadn’t been seen outside the house for years.
Carol King, who said she’s been friends with Blair for more than a decade, said she wasn’t quite sure of the names of the younger of the four children. She said the kids were homeschooled and that the mother wanted to protect them from potential abusers in the outside world.
“I told her, ‘You can’t alienate those kids and keep them in there like that,’ ” King said.
King said she wants to help the mother, who can be “the sweetest thing” and has “the heart of an angel,” but who has also shown rage when provoked.
Two days earlier, King had been at the residence for a barbecue with the mother and her two other children. The deep freezer was there, but King said she “never paid no attention to it. I’ve got a deep freezer.”
Tori Childs, 33, said she “was numb” after seeing the children’s bodies as she walked by the door of the home.
“The little girl had on a pink jacket,” she said. The boy “was under a white sheet,” she said.
“It’s so tragic,” Childs said. “My heart hurts for them.”
She said the mother, with whom she had been friends with for years, had been at her house just the other day.
Detroit Public Schools said late Tuesday that none of the four children was enrolled. They also are not enrolled in the Education Achievement Authority schools.
Jessy Porter, 28, who lives next door to where the bodies were found, said that sometimes the only way they knew their neighbors were home was by hearing them through the walls.
“There’d been times we didn’t see her,” Porter said. “I would think she just wanted to be alone.”
Court officer Lee Gordon was part of the eviction crew that made the discovery. Just inside the door, she said, was a small, deep freezer.
When they opened it, she saw a body, she said.
Gordon said there were children’s items in the home, including boots by the door. She said that once they saw a body in the freezer, everyone was told to leave and 911 was called.
“It’s just very, very sad,” she said. “It’s a sad situation.”
Detroit Free Press