It was an unthinkable and wicked crime in which two innocent children met painful, terrifying deaths. Mitchelle Blair doesn't deserve to call herself a mother. This makes for upsetting reading. The only consolation is justice was served.
It was 11.30am on 24 March 2015. Bailiffs were banging on Mitchelle Blair’s door in Detroit’s Martin Luther King apartments. The 35-year-old single mum-of-four was being evicted for not paying rent.
She wasn’t in, so bailiffs went straight in and started clearing furniture from the rubbish-strewn townhouse. But opening a deep, white chest freezer by the front door, they made a gruesome discovery. Amongst the ice lay a body. A little girl wearing a pink coat.
Police raced to the property. Then another awful discovery… Another body hidden under the first. This time, a young boy wrapped in a plastic sheet.
Officers immediately arrested Mitchelle Blair, who was hiding out at a neighbour’s house with two of her kids – a boy aged 8 and a girl aged 17. But her two middle – Stoni Blair and Stephen Berry – were missing. As Blair was handcuffed and led past the frozen bodies, she was heard muttering, ‘I’m sorry….’
At the morgue, the bodies had to be left to thaw naturally. When autopsies were finally carried out, they revealed what police already suspected. They were Mitchelle Blair’s missing kids, Stoni and Stephen. And they could have been in that freezer for years.
The children had suffered horrific injuries. Both were malnourished with multiple injuries all over their bodies. Stoni had died, aged 13, from blunt trauma to the head. She’d had something corrosive splashed across her body, and her ears almost looked chewed off.
Stephen had been killed, aged 9. He’d also been beaten in the head multiple times and had burns to his mid abdomen, genitals, buttocks and face. Almost immediately, Blair confessed, telling police, ‘I did it.’
As tears flowed at a vigil for the murdered youngsters, shocked friends of Blair described their disbelief such a ‘beautiful person’ could have done this. ‘She didn’t have any emotional problems from what I’m aware of,’ her brother, Marlon Blair said.
Her Facebook profile proudly declared, ‘loyal to my babies’ and a recent post announced, ‘There is no greater blessing than being called Mom.’ Lies.
Three years previously, Mitchelle Blair had pulled her kids out of school to home school them. Soon people noticed Stoni and Stephen – who were remembered as kind and well-mannered – hadn’t been seen around for ages. Blair batted away concerns, saying they preferred to stay indoors – and she liked keeping them in to ‘protect them from potential abusers’.
It turned out, in 2002 and 2005, social workers had investigated allegations of child abuse against Blair after noticing burns and bruises on the girls’ bodies.
Yet Blair had been allowed to keep her kids – and now two of them were dead.
In June 2015, she pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder, at Wayne County Circuit Court.
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Wearing a red prison jumpsuit, she ranted, trying to justify her actions, claiming she’d killed Stephen and Stoni because they’d supposedly sexually abused their younger brother. ‘They raped my baby,’ she alleged, describing her dead kids as ‘demons’.
Utterly remorseless, she said she was ‘proud’ of killing 9-year-old Stephen, after subjecting him to a fortnight of intense abuse in August 2012. She described beating him, scalding his private parts in a boiling bath ‘until his skin came off’, tying rubbish bags over his head, with an extension cord around his neck, dragging him around until he couldn’t breathe.
When she’d finally found him ‘unresponsive’, she’d wrapped his body in plastic sheets and stashed it in the freezer. She admitted burning Stoni with a hot curling iron and beating her to death, with a piece of wood, in May 2013. ‘I definitely meant to kill her,’ she said, saying she’d do it again.
Plus, there was substantial evidence Mitchelle Blair had physically abused all her children. The youngest boy had told a social worker about being beaten by his mum. Chillingly, he talked about seeing his brother and sister being killed. It also emerged Blair had forced her oldest daughter to help hide Stoni’s body in the freezer.
In sentencing Mitchelle Blair to life in prison without parole, and revoking her parental rights over her surviving kids, Judge Dana Hathaway told her the ‘greatest tragedy’ was she’d taken her children’s chance at a better life.
‘They lived in terrible fear of you, and I find that so sad,’ she said. ‘After all is said and done, you imposed the death penalty on your own children.’
Now those children are buried side-by-side in proper graves. May they rest in peace.