The body of Damari Perry was partially charred, indicating someone tried to burn the child’s body after he died, the Lake County, Indiana, coroner’s office reported Tuesday.
The coroner’s office issued a statement saying its preliminary finding was that the North Chicago boy died from hypothermia, a finding in line with Lake County, Illinois, authorities who said the boy was subjected to a forced cold shower by his family that caused his death. However, they had not disclosed the evidence of burns.
“The decedent was found naked and wrapped in a plastic trash bag and partially charred,” the Indiana coroner’s office said.
The child also showed scattered signs of possible bruising on his leg, the coroner said. The burns happened after the child was dead, the pathologist reported.
Meanwhile, the boy’s mother, who is charged in connection with her young son’s death, remained hospitalized Tuesday, while her oldest son had a public defender appointed to represent him on charges that he played a role in the case.
Jannie M. Perry, 38, remained in police custody while she is hospitalized with an undisclosed illness, authorities said. North Chicago police said this week that they do not have a timetable for her release. After she is discharged, Perry will appear in Lake County bond court, where bail will be set on a charge of first-degree murder in connection with the death of her son, Damari.
Authorities say the child died a day before his sixth birthday on Dec. 29, when a family member forced him to stand in a cold shower for an undisclosed amount of time as a punishment for misbehavior. He vomited and became unresponsive before he died, authorities said, and Jannie Perry and two of her other children are charged with concealing a homicidal death for leaving Damari’s body near an abandoned house in Gary, Indiana.
Her oldest son, Jeremiah, 20, did appear in court Tuesday, where Lake County Judge Paul Novak appointed a public defender to represent him on battery and the concealment charges related to Damari’s death.
No other details of the alleged crime were disclosed during the brief hearing. Perry remains jailed in lieu of $3 million bail, and the judge set his next court date for Feb. 1.
Another of Perry’s children, a 17-year-old, has been charged as a juvenile in connection with Damari’s death.
Police said the family had reported Damari missing Jan. 5 and told authorities they believed he may have been in Skokie. Investigators, though, said that story was false and took Jannie Perry and two of her children into custody Friday night.
North Chicago police and FBI agents, aided by Indiana authorities, recovered the child’s body Saturday near an abandoned house in Gary. North Chicago Police Chief Lazaro Perez said Monday that there is no known connection between the Perry family and the location in the 700 block of Van Buren Street where the body was found.
While she was in custody Saturday afternoon, Jannie Perry complained of illness and was taken to the hospital, police said.
Illinois Department of Children and Family Services officials said this week that Jannie Perry lost custody of her children in 2014 following a domestic violence complaint. When Damari was born in late 2015, he, too, joined his six siblings in foster care, DCFS said, before Perry regained custody in 2017.
DCFS investigated a complaint involving Damari last year, but determined that the complaint was unfounded, a department spokesman said Monday.