CROWN POINT, Ind. (CBS) — An autopsy showed that the body of 6-year-old Damari Perry was naked and partially burned upon being found dumped in Gary, Indiana, and the likely cause of his death was hypothermia.
As CBS 2’s Jermont Terry reported, Damari was first reported missing by his family last week and was believed to be in extreme danger. But authorities said the family’s story about how he disappeared after going to a party with his sister was not true – and his mother and two siblings are now charged in connection with his death.
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We already knew little Damari was torture in a cold shower before he died. But a Lake County, Indiana the Coroner’s report reveals underlying suffering the child experienced well before his murder.
Damari was a precious skid whose six years on earth proved to be painful. As police issued a missing persons alert for Damari last week, the investigation ultimately uncovered the boy’s body had already been discarded like trash in a snow-covered field in Gary.
The Coroner’s office said the FBI found Damari’s body off the 700 block alley between Harrison Street and Van Buren Avenue. His body was naked and wrapped in a trash bag and was partially charred, the Coroner’s office reported.
An autopsy on Damari’s body found scattered ecchymosis – a discoloration of the skin caused by deep bruising and bleeding underneath – on his right leg.
But the wounds from the torture went deeper than Damari’s skin. The autopsy also found that he had a very cold core temperature and his internal organs were partially frozen.
There were also charring and thermal burns that he suffered after he died, the Coroner’s office said.
Based on these findings, the pending cause of death for Damari is hypothermia – though some tests still need to be completed and could take three to four more weeks. The manner of death was homicide, the Coroner’s office said.
Damari’s mother, Jannie Perry 38; his brother, Jeremiah Perry, 20; and a juvenile sibling are all facing charges in his death. Damari’s mother and brother have arrested previously, but this, of course, is far more serious.
Before police found Damari’s body in Gary, his family had claimed he went missing after his sister brought him to a party in Skokie – more than an hour away.
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But prosecutors said the story about the party in Skokie was not true, and Damari’s body was dumped while his family tried to conceal the murder – only after getting tortured by a family member.
Illinois Department of Children and Family Services records show Damari, of North Chicago, was born into the Illinois foster care system. This is because his mother, Jannie Perry, had lost custody of her five other children in 2014 following a DCFS domestic violence investigation.
Damari was taken into the state’s care at birth in 2015. But two years later in 2017, the court ordered Damari and all his siblings to go back into their mother’s care.
Records show DCFS launched two investigations into the Perry family before the boy’s death. Last year, the system opened an abuse and neglect investigation, where DCFS looked into whether Damari’s mother wrote a threatening message to harm him.
At that point, DCFS concluded the threat was “unfounded.”
Then on Dec. 29, prosecutors said someone was mad at the child and put him in a cold shower as a punishment. The bone-chilling water was cut off only after Damari vomited before becoming unresponsive.
Despite several family members in the house, no one called for help – and Damari died. It is not clear how long he suffered that day.
The mother, Damari’s brother Jeremiah, and the third juvenile brother are accused of helping dump the boy’s body in Gary – then lying to police about how he disappeared at a party in Skokie.
Damari’s mother now has seven children ranging in age from 4 to 20. The younger kids are likely back in the state’s care as she sits in jail.
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Jannie Perry has not yet appeared before a judge, because she remained in the hospital as of Tuesday night.