The mother and adult brother of 6-year-old North Chicago boy Damari Perry have both been charged with first-degree murder by a grand jury and prosecutors could seek life sentences.
Damari was laid to rest Tuesday, and on Wednesday a Lake County grand jury returned a 19-count indictment against his older brother, Jeremiah Perry, and his mother, Jannie Perry.
Jannie and Jeremiah Perry were jointly indicted on eight counts of murder, aggravated battery of a child, dismembering a human body, conspiracy, aggravated domestic battery, concealment of a homicidal death, endangering the life or health of a child, abuse of a corpse and obstructing justice.
Jannie Perry was also indicted on one count of failure to report the death or disappearance of a child under 13 years of age.
Prosecutors said that the evidence shows that Jannie and Jeremiah Perry formulated and enacted a plan to severely punish Damari through prolonged exposure in a cold shower.
Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney Kyle Doyle said the family of Damari reported that the boy “did something that the mother felt needed to be punished for” on December 29.
The next day, Damari was put into a tub or shower with the cold water on for an “extended period of time,” Doyle said in court.
Damari vomited and became unresponsive. It was determined the boy was deceased but no one in the family called 911, Doyle said.
The incident occurred at the family’s apartment in the 1700 block of Sheridan Road in North Chicago.
Doyle said that Jannie Perry and Jeremiah Perry discussed how to dispose of the body and ended up taking it to Indiana.
On January 5, almost a week after Damari’s death, the family reported the boy missing.
Investigators determined the family’s story about Damari going missing in Skokie was “completely false.”
Damari’s body was located near an abandoned house in the 700 block of Van Buren Street in Gary, Indiana, police said.
The boy was found naked wrapped in a plastic trash bag, the Lake County, Indiana Coroner’s Office said.
He had bruises, an extremely cold core temperature and partially frozen internal organs, an autopsy found. The coroner’s office said Damari also had postmortem burns.
According to the grand jury indictment, prosecutors could seek natural life sentences against Jannie Perry, 38, and Jeremiah Perry, 20, for the killing of Damari.
The grand jury found evidence that the boy’s murder was “exceptionally brutal and heinous,” which allows prosecutors to seek natural life sentences.
The charge of dismembering a human body stems from evidence that the family burned Damari’s remains after his death.
Prosecutors indicated that they may seek up to 60 years in prison for the dismembering charge alone.
“As prosecutors considered the crime scene where Damari died, it became clear that this was a calculated plan against a small child. Damari’s final minutes warrant the sentencing enhancements that accompany such ‘brutal and heinous’ circumstances,” Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said.
“The defendants’ stunning failure to seek medical attention demonstrates their intent to end Damari’s life. Transporting and burning the body as part of a cover up also warranted the additional serious charges we filed today,” Rinehart said.
Jannie and Jeremiah Perry are scheduled to appear in court on February 7 to be arraigned on the new charges.