Mother in custody after body of boy, 3, found decomposing in freezer

Detroit Chief of Police James White briefs members of the press in 2021. Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images

The body of a three-year-old boy was found decomposing in the basement freezer of his family’s Detroit home on Friday morning, according to local law enforcement.

The boy was found during a welfare check conducted by Detroit police officers and Child Protective Services (CPS). Five other children lived in the house.

According to Detroit Police Chief James White, when authorities arrived at the home they felt that the mother was trying to get them to leave, “as if there was nothing going on.”

“The discovery would not have been possible without the officers’ intuition,” White told reporters. “When they talked to the occupant of the home they recognized there was something not right about the conversation and the way this occupant was communicating with them.”

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The officers later found the body in the freezer, White added.

It was not immediately clear how or when the boy died or how long his body had been in the freezer. An autopsy is being conducted to learn more.

White did not describe the state of decomposition in which the three year-old was found, but did say that the case has shocked him and investigators.

“We’re getting support for the officers,” he said. “That’s something that no one should have to see.”

He also expressed worry for the other children who were living in the home, asking reporters to “imagine what they must have gone through and what they must have endured being inside that home.”

White says the house was in poor condition but didn’t give any further details. Based on what he saw, he said “there are a lot of concerns for the other children.”

The boy’s 30 year-old mother has been taken into custody but no charges have yet been laid against her.

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Police Captain Kimberly Blackwell said that the five other children were taken to a nearby hospital to be evaluated. They have been turned over to child protection services (CPS) and will soon be interviewed by police.

White says that police are unsure if the children knew about the decomposing body in their basement.

Authorities have not released the mother’s name. White said investigators would look into whether she had previous contacts with police or CPS. According to Blackwell, the investigation into this incident will be led by homicide investigators with help from the child abuse division and CPS.

Back in February, Brandon Toseland, 35, was arrested after police found the body of a four-year-old boy in the freezer of his family’s home.

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The boy’s sibling had passed a note to her teacher which tipped off law enforcement. The note was written by their mother, who said she was being held against her will by her boyfriend and didn’t know the whereabouts of her son.

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Police executed a search warrant of the home and found the child’s body in a freezer in the garage.

— With files from Global News’ Michelle Butterfield

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