The mother and adult brother of Damari Perry are facing new charges in the 6-year-old’s brutal 2021 murder.
The child’s body was discovered at an abandoned Gary, Indiana house in the early morning hours of Jan. 8, 2022, as previously reported. A postmortem examination by the Lake County Coroner’s Office determined Damari died of hypothermia and had partially frozen organs. Additional injuries, including bruising and burns, indicated the young boy suffered abuse.
“The decedent was found naked and wrapped in a plastic trash bag and partially charred,” said the coroner, according to the Chicago Tribune. The burns occurred after Damari died.
Damari was reported missing on Jan. 5, 2022, and relatives told police he disappeared while in his teenage sister’s care. But police said Damari’s family concocted the story.
Last month, Damari’s mother and brother, 38-year-old Jannie Perry and 20-year-old Jeremiah Perry, were charged in connection to Damari’s death. Damari’s 16-year-old sister, who is not named because of her age, was also charged.
On Wednesday, mother and son were jointly indicted on eight counts of murder, aggravated battery of a child, dismembering a human body, and concealment of a homicidal death, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart addressed the brutal nature of the crime, according to Fox News.
“As prosecutors considered the crime scene where Damari died, it became clear that this was a calculated plan against a small child,” said Rinehart. “Damari’s final moments warrant the sentencing enhancements that accompany such ‘brutal and heinous’ circumstances.”
Because a grand jury found the crimes to be “exceptionally brutal and heinous,” prosecutors are in a position to seek life sentences against both defendants, according to the Sun-Times.
Prosecutors stated that on Dec. 29, 2021 — one day before Damari’s birthday — family members forced the child into an ice-cold shower as a means of punishment when he “did something to upset his family,” according to the Tribune. The suspects allegedly forced Damari to remain in the shower, even after he began to vomit and become unresponsive.
Damari’s mother and siblings are accused of hiding the child’s body in the family home or car before deciding to dispose of the body in Gary.
Police began investigating the role of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) when it was revealed that the department had dealings with the Perry family in the past, according to CBS Chicago. Damari was reportedly born into the foster care system after Jannie Perry lost custody of her other five children pending a 2014 domestic violence investigation.
In 2017, Damari and his five siblings were returned to Jannie’s care.
DCFS also opened an investigation after Jannie allegedly wrote a message threatening to harm Damari, but the case was determined to be “unfounded.”
“Our prosecutors have worked weekends and nights to find the truth of this awful case,” continued Rinehart. “I must commend the dedication of Chief Scheller, Chief Levi, the victim advocates at the Children’s Advocacy Center, and the detectives with North Chicago Police Department for their countless hours in this important matter.”
Jannie and Jeremiah Perry are scheduled for arraignment on Feb. 7.