BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (Reuters) - Chase DeBlase and his sister Natalie endured cruelty and torture before their father John DeBlase allegedly murdered them and dumped their bodies, according to court documents.
The scattered remains of Chase were found in a wooded area of Mississippi near the Alabama state line, Sheriff Mike Byrd, of Jackson County in Mississippi, said on Thursday.
Chase and his sister had been missing for six months before the body was found on Wednesday.
“(John) DeBlase had a shovel and intentions of burying the body, but the ground was too hard, so he shoved the body in a black plastic bag under a thicket and covered it with leaves,” said Byrd.
DeBlase, from Mobile, Alabama, is charged with mistreating a corpse, according to court documents, in addition to murder.
Three-year-old Chase had his hands duct-taped to the side of his legs with a broomstick taped to his back by stepmother Heather Leavell-Keaton, the documents say.
A sock was shoved in his mouth, which was also closed with duct-tape. The parents went to bed, leaving the boy to stand all night long, according to court documents.
Natalie, whose body is still missing, was allegedly bound by hands and feet with tape, with a sock stuck in her mouth. The 5-year-old was then left in a black suitcase in a closet for 14 hours, according to court documents.
“It was just plain evil. Hell ain’t hot enough for anybody who would do something like this to a child,” said Byrd.
Police continue to search for Natalie’s body near Mobile.
Leavell-Keaton is being held in Louisville, Kentucky, and would be brought to Alabama to face charges, police said.
Thus far she has been charged with child abuse, but further charges will be brought against her and DeBlase if Natalie’s body is recovered, according to Major Cara Rose of the Mobile Police Department.
DeBlase and Keaton are blaming each other in the case, police say. A Leavell-Keaton relative started the search for the children’s bodies when she tipped off police in Louisville, police said.
Editing by Jerry Norton