Damari Perry, a 6-year-old Chicago boy found dead in freezing temperatures in Indiana Saturday morning, was killed in a gruesome homicide, a medical examiner ruled Tuesday evening.
Three family members have been accused of forcing him into a cold shower on Dec. 30 – where they made him stay until he threw up and passed out. Then they failed to call anyone for assistance.
He died – and they allegedly dumped him near an abandoned house in Gary, Indiana, according to local authorities.
In a gruesome press release, the Lake County Coroner’s Office announced that the pending cause of death is hypothermia – but also described other injuries they found on the child.Damari is believed to have frozen to death before his partially burned body suffered “charring,” according Coroner David Pastrick. Authorities said they discovered him naked and wrapped in a plastic trash bag.
Dr. Zhou Wang, who conducted the postmortem exam, found scattered bruising on the boy’s right leg, “extremely cold core temperature and partially frozen internal organs,” Pastrick said in a statement.
Additional test results for toxicology and histology could take another month.
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services previously launched two investigations into Damari’s family prior to his death, according to local reports – including one in which his mother was accused of making harmful threats, an allegation later ruled unfoundedDamari’s mother, Jannie Perry, lost custody of all six of her children, including Damari, who was born into the foster care system, in 2015. She regained custody of all of them two years later, according to DCFS documents obtained by CBS 2 Chicago.
Damari’s family stand accused of lying to police and reporters when they claimed the boy went missing Wednesday after his 16-year-old sister brought him to a party in Skokie, Illinois, and lost sight of him.
“The family initially provided information to police indicating that Damari might be missing in Skokie, Illinois,” Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Reinhardt’s office said in an earlier press release. “But investigators quickly turned their focus to the boy’s home in North Chicago after the family’s story was contradicted by evidence in Skokie.”
Reinhardt’s office on Saturday charged Jannie Perry, 38, with first-degree murder, concealment of a homicidal death and obstructing justice. Damari’s 20-year-old brother, Jeremiah R. Perry, faces charges of aggravated battery causing great bodily harm to a child under 12, concealing a homicidal death and obstructing justice. Another juvenile sibling of Damari is facing unspecified charges.