Woman Charged in 6-Year-Old Son's Death Previously Lost Custody of Children for 3 Years, DCFS Says

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Warning: Details are graphic and disturbing.

The North Chicago woman charged with killing her 6-year-old son previously lost custody of all of her children between 2014 and 2017, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services said.

Jannie Perry, 38, faces multiple charges, including first-degree murder, in connection with the death of her son Damari Perry, whose body was found in Gary, Indiana, on Saturday, three days after family reported him missing.

Two of Damari Perry's older siblings were also charged in connection with his death after prosecutors said the story his family told investigators when reporting the child missing was later determined to be "completely false."

DCFS spokesman Bill McCaffrey said Tuesday that in 2014, there was an allegation of domestic violence between the parents that the agency investigated and found to be true. DCFS then took custody of the four children who were in the home at the time, according to McCaffrey.

In 2014, Jannie Perry gave birth to a fifth child, who was taken into protective custody, per DCFS. On Dec. 30, 2015, she gave birth to Damari Perry, who was also taken into custody and placed in foster care, the agency said. Then in 2017, Jannie Perry gave birth to a seventh child who was also taken into custody, officials said.

DCFS said the agency's records showed that the court ordered all the children to be returned to Jannie Perry's home in 2017. McCaffrey said DCFS did not have any further contact with the family until May 2021, when an allegation of abuse and neglect was filed. It was investigated, determined to be unfounded and subsequently closed, he said.

Court records from Boone County show that Jannie Perry in June 2014 argued unsuccessfully for an order of protection again Damari Perry's father Dalvin Driver, accusing him of choking her on three separate occasions several years apart. It's unclear if that was the allegation of domestic violence that prompted the DCFS investigation.

Relatives of 6-year-old Damari Perry joined for a balloon released Monday in honor of their loved one just days after his death. NBC 5's Christian Farr reports.

Jannie Perry was arrested later that same year, in October 2014, on misdemeanor counts of resisting and obstructing an officer after police were called to a fight in the back of a taxi cab, according to court documents filed in the case. She pleaded guilty to those charges, records show.

Boone County records also show that in 2015, DCFS filed to obtain child support from Jannie Perry for two of her children who were in foster care at the time. The court ultimately dismissed the agency's petition.

Authorities say family members reported Damari Perry missing on Jan. 5, prompting the FBI to put out an alert on his disappearance.

Family initially told police that the boy and his 16-year-old sister were driven to a party in the Skokie area by a man and woman the night before, the FBI said.

Damari Perry’s sister reported that she had several drinks at the party and fell asleep, authorities said. When she awoke, Damari Perry and the man were no longer at the residence, police were told.

After evidence contradicted the family's story, investigators turned their focus to the boy's home in North Chicago, according to the state's attorney's office in north suburban Lake County, Illinois.

Information from witnesses brought investigators to Gary, Indiana, where authorities said the FBI discovered Damari Perry's body early Saturday morning in the alley between the 700 blocks of Harrison Street and Van Buren Avenue, officials said.

Jannie Perry was charged with first-degree murder and concealment of a homicidal death, prosecutors announced Saturday, hours after the boy's body was found. Damari Perry's older brother Jeremiah Perry, 20, was charged with aggravated battery causing great bodily harm to a child under 12, concealing a homicidal death, and obstructing justice. A second juvenile sibling was arrested for charges related to concealing the boy's body.

A mother and two siblings were charged Saturday in connection with the death of a 6-year-old boy who was reported missing from North Chicago. NBC 5's Lexi Sutter reports.

Prosecutors alleged at a court hearing for Jeremiah Perry on Sunday that Damari Perry "did something to upset family" on Dec. 29, and as a result, family members put him in a cold shower for an unspecified amount of time as punishment.

At some point, Damari vomited and was then removed from the shower, prosecutors said. The young boy eventually died and relatives didn't call for medical attention, according to officials, who said family later brought his body to Indiana.

The Lake County Coroner's Office in northwest Indiana conducted the postmortem examination on Damari Perry on Monday morning, the coroner's office said Tuesday.

The coroner's office said the boy's body was found naked and wrapped in a plastic trash bag, and that he was partially burned after his death.

The autopsy found "scattered ecchymosis on the right leg, extremely cold core temperature, and partially frozen internal organs," the coroner's office said, adding that there was "postmortem thermal injury/charring" on the child's body.

The coroner's office said his pending cause of death was hypothermia, ruling it a homicide.

More charges could be filed following the completion of the autopsy and as the investigation progresses, prosecutors previously said.

A judge on Sunday ordered Jeremiah Perry held on $3 million bail, according to the Lake County State's Attorney's office. Jannie Perry was taken to the hospital on Saturday after she said she was ill, officials said, noting she would be taken to bond court once she is discharged.

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