Woman in child deaths case booked in US
MOBILE, ALA: The woman accused of torturing two children who were later killed and dumped in rural Mississippi and Alabama was booked into an Alabama jail early Monday after being extradited from Kentucky.
Heather Leavell-Keaton was booked into the jail on child abuse charges around 1:30 a.m. and is being held without bond, a sergeant at the jail said.
Over the weekend, search teams uncovered human remains in Alabama that police believe belong to one of the children. Search teams found the skeletal remains near a county road in Citronelle, about 30 miles north of Mobile, said Mobile Police Maj. Kara Rose.
Rose said investigators believe the remains belong to Natalie DeBlase, who would have turned 5 in late November. Skeletal remains found last Wednesday in the woods of rural Mississippi are believed to belong to her 3-year-old brother, Chase. The children's father, John DeBlase, 27, is charged with two counts of felony murder and two counts of corpse abuse. Police have said Leavell-Keaton, DeBlase's common-law wife, also is responsible in the killings. She has been charged with child abuse but not murder.
Mobile County Assistant District Attorney Jo Beth Murphree said Friday that authorities would soon upgrade Leavell-Keaton's charges from child abuse to more serious aggravated child abuse counts. Leavell-Keaton also was to be charged with two counts of corpse abuse.
DeBlase's court-appointed attorney, Jim Sears, has said DeBlase maintains that he is innocent and that LeavellKeaton killed the children. She has blamed DeBlase for the children's deaths.
Attorneys for DeBlase have said he will plead not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect. Sears said Friday that comments made by friends that called into question DeBlase's mental health are "certainly not without reason." DeBlase had told police he dumped his daughter Natalie in the woods north of Mobile in March. -Ap