A Massachusetts judge ordered a 31-year-old woman found living last month with the bodies of three dead infants in a rodent-infested house held on $1 million cash bail.
The woman, Erika Murray, was arrested last month and charged with foetal death concealment, witness intimidation and animal cruelty after state officials removed four living children, ranging in age from 3 months to 13 years, from the house where they had been living in Blackstone, Massachusetts.
Murray, who has pleaded not guilty to the charges, did not appear at Worcester District Court in Uxbridge, Massachusetts.
"There may be no one less likely to run away than Erika Murray," because she has no money or means to travel, said Keith Halpern, Murray's lawyer.
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Murray had hardly left the house in the seven or eight years before her arrest, Halpern said.
Judge David Locke set her bail at $1 million cash, exceeding a prosecutor's request for bail of $500,000. The judge did not elaborate on his decision.
Police began searching Murray's house on 10 September after a neighbour entered the house in response to a call from Murray's son about a crying baby.
The neighbour "found the home to be in complete squalor . . . the smell of human and animal faeces was overwhelming, and there was trash strewn throughout the home," prosecutor John Bradley said on Tuesday.
The four children were taken into state custody. The older two were determined to be Murray's, but no birth records were found for the two younger children.
Police also discovered the skeletal remains of three babies, the prosecutor said. One had a full head of hair and two were clothed, he said.
The evidence suggested at least two of the babies had been alive for some period of time, the prosecutor said.
"It's going to take a long time to sort out what happened," Halpern told reporters following the hearing. "There are parts of this story that make absolutely no sense."
Murray told police she had left her 10-year-old son to look after the children and had been gone from the house for seven or eight hours, the prosecutor said. She said her boyfriend, Ray Rivera, was the father.
Rivera, who also lived at the house, has not been charged. He appeared briefly in court and was scheduled to return for a hearing on 12 November.
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