A mother was arrested on Friday and charged with the murder of her 6-year-old son. Two of the victim’s older siblings were also charged after the family’s initial story was deemed “completely false” by law enforcement, according to WGN-TV.
The boy, Damari Perry, was reported missing Wednesday by his family in north Chicago. At the time, his older sister, 16, told police that she and Damari had been taken to a party near Skokie, Illinois, where she had too many drinks and passed out. By the time she woke up, she explained, the boy and the man who had driven them to the party were gone.
Authorities began to doubt this story as investigators questioned witnesses and looked into the family’s home in Chicago. The probe ultimately led them to find Damari’s body in Gary, Indiana, near an abandoned home on Friday, as confirmed by authorities the following day.
Following this discovery, the boy’s mother, Janine Perry, 38, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder, concealment of a homicidal death, and obstructing justice. Older brother Jeremiah R. Perry, 20, was also arrested and charged with aggravated battery causing great bodily harm to a child under 12, concealing a homicidal death, and obstructing justice.
“Prosecutors, investigators, and victim support professionals worked late into the night and into the early morning to make sure we understood this tragic crime. Now, because of their rigorous and detailed investigation, we will be able to bring Damari’s killers to justice in a courtroom,” Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said in an official statement.
Another sibling was also arrested and charged with concealing a body, but according to NBC Chicago, they were listed only as a juvenile. It is unknown at this time if this juvenile is the older sister who gave the false report about a party, or another sibling. More charges could potentially be added against the family following the results of an autopsy.
Extended family member Dreena Driver spoke to ABC 7 Chicago about the tragic story, expressing “shock” and “disbelief.”
“This is not replaceable,” Driver said. “He’s not replaceable! We can’t go back and get another Damari…We’re all shocked. We’re all in disbelief. We all don’t understand how she could let it get to this point. My little cousin should’ve been away from her.”
Dalvin Driver, Damari’s father, also spoke to ABC 7 about the loss of his youngest son.
“I feel like I lost a part of myself when I got that call,” he said. “He was the best thing you can ever have for the time that I had to spend with him. It was some of the best time that I had in my life. He was just the life of me, man. It’s like you can walk in the room and everybody loved him.”
Perry and the two siblings were scheduled to make their first court appearance on Sunday.
Newsweek reached out to the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office for more details and comments on this story.