Kids found in rat-filled house of horrors
Five years after the bodies of two babies and a foetus were found inside her rat-infested home, a mum has cried in court after she was shown pictures of her surviving children.
Erika Murray, 35, is in court charged with two counts of murder after police found the two dead infants inside her filthy home in the US state of Massachusetts in 2014.
Her four other children, ranging from five months to 13, were taken by child protective services. The two youngest, a three-year-old girl and a five-month-old girl, were found stuffed inside bedroom closets in the rubbish-filled house.
The home, in the town of Blackstone, eventually had to be torn down after it was condemned.
"Horrible rotting food. Dirty diapers, lots of dirty diapers, baby bottles, maggots everywhere. It was really dark and hot. It was horrible," neighbour Betsy Brown told the court.
"It was the worst smell I had ever smelt."
Ms Brown called child services in August 2014 after her son told her Murray's 10-year-old son had approached him and asked how to stop a baby crying.
When Ms Brown went into the home, she was forced to use her T-shirt to clean faeces off the infants' faces. "She had faeces completely pretty much covering her," Ms Brown said. "Hair, body, everything.
"Just everywhere you looked, there was filth on the walls. There were little handprints, baby handprints and faeces. It was horrible. It was everywhere."
Social worker Walter McClain, who also testified in court earlier today, said it was difficult to see what colour the child's skin was. He said there was something "crawling around in her ear", according to WCVB-TV.
"You couldn't tell the colour of this child, because there was so much filth on her," Mr McClain told the court.
Another social worker, Catherine Francy, told the court Murray referred to her three-year-old daughter as "it".
When Murray saw pictures of her surviving children, she became emotional in court.
Previously, the court heard Murray was "embarrassed to have" her two younger children.
The 10-year-old and 13-year-old child did not even realise the two girls were their siblings and believed Murray was babysitting them.
The court heard the two older children, who attended school in Massachusetts, were also found with maggots in their ears.
The five-month-old baby's head was flat from lying down too much and the three-year-old was malnourished, sensitive to sunlight and "cowered" when social workers first spoke to her.
Clean-up crews tasked with going through the filthy house took close to 100 hours, spread over four days, to properly clear out the home.
Council workers then brought in a bulldozer to completely destroy the condemned house.
Blackstone police officer Michael Pavone told the court the rubbish inside the home was close to a metre high and crawling with maggots.
Murray's lawyer Keith Halpern told the court his client has extensive mental issues. He also explained she did not call police after the deaths of the three infants because she panicked.
The court heard the two younger children were born inside the Blackstone home.