GARY, Ind. — On Sunday, a memorial of stuffed animals and angels lined the window ledge outside the building where 6-year-old Damari Perry lived with his mom and six siblings.
Prosecutors say it was inside that home where the young boy’s mother and two of those siblings killed him on his birthday, Dec. 30, after they developed a plan to punish him for something he’d done the day before.
“He was placed into a cold shower for an extended period of time, held there by family members at the direction of the mother,” Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said. “We believe the mother may have been involved also, and at some point, he became unresponsive, vomited and died.”
Rinehart says the family didn’t call 911 but kept his body inside the home or car for a couple of days while they figured out how to dispose of it.
Damari’s body was discovered Friday near an abandoned house in Gary, Indiana.
“We was just praying and hoping for the best that he would be returned safely to us,” Delonya Driver, Damari’s aunt, said. “It’s so shocking.”
On Sunday, a Lake County judge ordered Damari’s 20-year-old brother Jeremiah Perry to be held on a $3 million bond. Perry is charged with aggravated battery, concealing a homicidal death and obstructing justice.
Damari’s mom Jannie Perry was arrested for first-degree murder, among other charges. Prosecutors expect her to face a judge for the first time Monday.
A juvenile sibling, whose name and charges aren’t being released, also appeared in court.
“I’ve been working in criminal law for almost 20 years now and this is one of the worst cases I’ve seen,” Rinehart said.
Complicated by a web of lies, Rinehart says when someone reported Damari missing days after his death, they invented a story about him disappearing from a party in Skokie.
“They’ve been obstructing justice for many days. They’ve been throwing investigators off for many days and that needs to be dealt with also,” Rinehart said.
A GoFundMe on behalf of the father of Damari Perry has been organized.
All juvenile family members are now in the custody of DCFS, police said.