Woman in child deaths case booked in US

The Pak Banker - - 6international -

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

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