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The Bloody Truth, Part Eight

Erika Murray and The Blackstone House of Horrors.

By Phoenixx Fyre DeanPublished 4 years ago 8 min read
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Erika Murray, Blackstone Massachusetts killer mom. (Photo credit: telegraph.com)

Maya Angelou wrote, “I really saw clearly, and for the first time, why a mother is really important. Not just because she feeds and also loves and cuddles and even mollycoddles a child, but because in an interesting and maybe an eerie and unworldly way, she stands in the gap. She stands between the unknown and the known.” In a perfect world, everyone would see the importance of motherhood and every mother would stand in the gap for her children. Unfortunately, we don't live in a perfect world. Motherhood has been reduced to a visit to the doctor's office, a beaker and a stranger's sperm. Anyone CAN do it, but there are far too many that simply shouldn't. Erika Murray is one of those that shouldn't have.

Erika Murray and live-in boyfriend Raymond Rivera's three year old daughter on the day she was found. Rivera denies knowledge of the child Murray referred to as "it". (Photo credit: AP)

August 28, 2014 began just like any other for Blackstone, Massachusetts resident Betsy Brown. Her telephone rang and she jumped to answer it, as her ten year old son was playing at the neighbor's house. It was the neighbor her son was playing with at the other end, another ten year old boy. He had a seemingly simple question for her, "how do you get a baby to stop crying?"

It took a moment to process the question. Betsy wasn't aware of any babies at the neighbor's house, and she hung up the phone and hurried next door to the house at 23 St. Paul Street. Her thoughts raced, but it couldn't be too bad, right? The police department was housed just one hundred yards from her front door!

Betsy Brown stepped on the porch and opened the door to the house. She was hit in the face with the overwhelming stench emanating from the interior of the home. Betsy Brown could hear babies screaming and stepped into the house. Fighting violent dry heaves, Brown stepped on top of piles of garbage and rotting food covered in maggots to reach the upstairs bedroom where the youngest, just five months old, was screaming at the top of her lungs. Brown was horrified by what she saw. The baby was lying in the middle of a mattress that was so thick with human urine and feces that it had collapsed and formed a cradle-like depression. A look into the other upstairs bedroom found a little girl that appeared to have been dipped in feces, she was so filthy. She was flinging herself back an forth on the mattress, her face landing on the feces and urine covered mattress she was on.

Betsy Brown wrapped the babies in her shirt and called the police. When police arrived just a few moments later, an emergency call was placed to the Division of Family and Children. The children, four of them it turned out, were taken from the home immediately and rushed to the hospital.

Blackstone police waded through the piles of garbage to search the house.

Officers checked each room for children, fighting the urge to vomit as they faced mountains of dirty diapers, rotting food, feces, urine, insects, rodents and maggots everywhere they looked.

Erika Murray arrived back at her home with her thirteen year old daughter in tow. Her daughter was well dressed in clean clothes, and she was talking on her cell phone. Erika was ordered to have a seat on the porch, and she did so, listening to a representative from The Division of Family/Children tell her that all four children were being removed from her and her home. Murray looked wholly unconcerned and answered with, "oh, okay" and stunned officials when she added, "be careful that you don't let the cat out."

Erika Murray used social media a great deal and often spoke in defense of those that were burdened with neglectful parents.

Erika Murray lived two very sick lives. In one life she was a mother, who by outward appearance, doted on her thirteen year old daughter and ten year old son. Her social media posts were filled with pictures of home-cooked meals, recipes, homemade Halloween costumes and happy children. The oldest child always had the latest in fashion and cellular devices and the youngest possessed the very best the home-gaming world had to offer. Both of the kids had friends and were active in school. Murray and her live-in boyfriend and father to the children, Raymond Rivera III, threw birthday parties at pizza and arcade-type restaurants for the kids, had skating parties and did all different sorts of activities where the children's friends were in attendance.

Blackstone, Massachusetts House of Horrors (Photo credit: Blackstone Police Department)

Nothing seemed out of the ordinary from the outside looking in. Then again, when people thought about it, the shades were always drawn. Erika never invited anyone inside her home, and the kids weren't permitted to have friends over to visit. Everyone, including Erika's parents, assumed it was because she was ashamed of how she was treated by Rivera behind closed doors.

Raymond Rivera III. (Photo credit: masslive.com)

While Raymond Rivera III was verbally and mentally abusive and had complete control over the finances in the house he felt he "paid the cost to be the boss" because he was a man. He thought very little of the woman that bore his children. He thought very little of women in general. He worked at Staples during the time he lived in the House of Horror he helped to create. It was found during the search of the home that Mr. Rivera sold marijuana from the home and had a single marijuana plant growing in the basement.

The three year old and the five month old girls were so neglected, they didn't even have names.

Police quickly removed the children and two starving and emaciated animals from the home at 23 St. Paul Street and interviewed the older children. Mom, they said, was babysitting the kids that were upstairs. Erika showed them a social media profile of a woman named Michelle Ridgeway, the supposed mother of the children that police found in the upstairs bedrooms. The profile turned out to be one that was made by Erika, and the profile picture was of Erika in a wig and glasses.

The children told investigators that the three year old would bang on the wall every night and the five month old little girl's screams were described as "blistering." When Raymond was asked about the children, he claimed he didn't know they were there. When Murray was asked the names of the little girls, she replied that she hadn't bothered to name them.

While the older children were being interviewed by investigators, the younger children were being examined in the emergency room. Both girls were filthy, underweight and starving. Neither child knew how to hold their arms out to be picked up. The three year old was terrified and was folding her body in half, with her head falling between her tiny legs in an effort to protect herself.

Both girls had the same flat heads, a result of spending most of their lives on their backs. Neither had any muscle tone to speak of and the three year old was unable to talk, her tiny feet incapable of holding her body weight so that she could walk. Maggots were found and removed from the ears, hair and diapers of the severely neglected girls.

A team of investigators donned hazmat suits and set about searching for any kind of birth record for the neglected and unnamed little girls. Murray assured them that they wouldn't find any. She had given birth to both of the babies in the bathtub of the only bathroom in the home. Further, she said, she didn't tell Rivera or her older children about the younger children because she "was embarrassed" and knew she couldn't afford them.

Investigators were shocked when they opened the closet door of the ten-year-old boy's bedroom. There, in the corner of the closet were two children's backpacks. In one was the full skeleton of a dog. In the second was a full skeleton of a baby, placenta still attached, with a mound of dark hair. The investigator walked back through the boy's bedroom, described as identical to a landfill, and into the bedroom of the thirteen-year-old girl. He took a deep breath, opened the closet door, and his heart sank as he saw two stained cardboard boxes in the corner. Inside each box was one mostly skeletonized, diapered and fully dressed baby.

Erika admitted to giving birth to the babies three to five years before they were found. She said she gave birth to each of the babies in the bathtub of the home she shared with Rivera. She said when the babies were stillborn, she panicked and didn't know what to do. Murray would later admit that at least one of the babies lived for at least a week.

Raymond Rivera III and Erika Murray. (Photo credit: AP)

Erika Murray was arrested and charged with two counts of second-degree murder for the two babies she had taken the time to dress. She was also charged with one count of concealing an out of wedlock fetal death, two counts of assault and battery on a child causing substantial bodily injury, two counts of reckless endangerment and two counts of animal cruelty.

Rivera stood before the court with seven charges. Two counts of assault and battery on a child causing substantial bodily injury, two counts of reckless endangerment of a child, two counts of cruelty to animals and one count of cultivating marijuana.

Judge Janet Kenton "Let 'Em Walk" Walker (Photo credit: diply.com)

Erika Murray chose a bench trial in front of Judge Janet Kenton-Walker over a jury trial. One could speculate this was a calculated move by Murray, who her defense attorney would argue was severely mentally ill, because she knew what most in Worcester, Massachusetts, knew; Judge Kenton-Walker had earned the moniker "Let 'Em Walk Walker." It turned out Murray made the right move. It took five years, but Murray was found guilty of assault and battery on a child and cruelty to animals in June, 2019. Judge Janet Kenton-Walker found Murray not guilty of second-degree murder in the bench trial due to her mental health issues. Although it was proven Murray had the mental capacity to falsify documentation when applying for assistance with her energy bills, and manipulated the public into believing that life was normal inside that house, the judge still found that her actions weren't that of criminal intent but of mental defect.

Raymond Rivera was sentenced by Judge Janet Kenton-Walker to four and one-half years and one day in prison, with credit for time served since December 2014 for one count of assault and battery on a child with substantial injury. Two and one-half years in the Worcester County House of Correction, with credit for one hundred thirty-six days served for two counts of reckless endangerment of a child. Three years to be spent on probation for animal cruelty and possession of marijuana. One count of assault and battery on a child with substantial injury was dismissed.

Neither parent was found guilt in the deaths of the infants hidden away in the closets. Judge Kenton-Walker justified her rulings by saying there was no real proof that the babies were ever alive, thus she couldn't issue a finding of culpability in their deaths.

Three babies dead, two more so severely neglected they didn't have names and two that lived in a home that was likened to a landfill, and the persons responsible will serve their time in jail for animal cruelty and marijuana possession.

Connect with us at Something Wicked Evansville on Facebook and help us fight for the families of victims of violent crime. Every child is worth the fight.

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About the Creator

Phoenixx Fyre Dean

Phoenixx lives on the Oregon coast with her husband and children.

Author of Lexi and Blaze: Impetus, The Bloody Truth and Daddy's Brat. All three are available on Amazon in paperback format and Kindle in e-book format.

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