Slain 6-year-old Illinois boy had partially frozen organs, coroner says

The body of a child found Saturday in an alley in Gary, Indiana, showed evidence of hypothermia and “partially frozen” internal organs, according to a statement Tuesday from the coroner.

Three family members, including his mother, have been charged in connection with 6-year-old Damari Perry’s death, which the coroner in Lake County, Indiana, has said was a homicide.

His mother, Jannie M. Perry, 38 has been charged with first-degree murder, and his 20-year-old brother Jeremiah R. Perry has been charged with aggravated battery on a child. A juvenile sibling has also been charged, but officials have not released the identity and charges because of the suspect’s age.

It wasn’t clear if the defendants had legal counsel. A public defender’s official in Illinois did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Damari PerryNorth Chicago Police Department

A statement Tuesday from Lake County Coroner David J. Pastrick said the child was found “naked” in a trash bag, his body partially charred.

The coroner said it appeared the charring happened after the child died. The statement also said one of his legs showed signs of bruising.

The body displayed evidence of “extremely cold core temperature, and partially frozen internal organs,” the coroner’s statement said.

The area has been beset by extreme cold since early January.

“Based on the above findings and the circumstance the pending cause of death is hypothermia,” it said. The manner of death was determined to be homicide.

The case is being prosecuted by the Lake County State’s Attorney in Illinois. Damari lived in North Chicago, and the investigation centered around the greater Chicago area, including Gary.

North Chicago police have said Damari’s body was found near an abandoned house. Pastrick said the FBI reported the discovery to his office before 5 a.m. Saturday.

The victim’s mother and 20-year-old brother reported him missing Jan. 5, and said he was last seen in Skokie, Illinois, authorities said previously.

NBC Chicago, citing police, reported that family members initially claimed the victim’s 16-year-old sister took him to a party in Skokie and then passed out after drinking only to find him missing.

Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said in a statement Saturday the Skokie story was “completely false.” The mother and brother also face obstructing justice charges as a result, he said.

Investigators’ interviews with family members, including children, ultimately led them to Gary, the prosecutor’s office said.

“Our hearts ache over the murder of 6-year-old Damari Perry,” Rinehart said in the statement.

Jannie Perry was taken to a hospital on Saturday after she complained she was ill, North Chicago Police said in a statement Monday. Additional details about her illness were not provided.

She remained in police custody during her hospitalization, but a scheduled court appearance regarding bond was postponed, the department said.

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