North Chicago boy found in Gary died of hypothermia, with partially frozen organs, coroner says

  • Jannie Perry

    Jannie Perry

  • Damari Perry

    Damari Perry

 
 
Updated 1/12/2022 4:33 PM

Damari Perry, the 6-year-old North Chicago boy whose body was found in Gary, Indiana, after he was reported missing by family members, died of hypothermia, the Lake County, Indiana, coroner's office said Tuesday in a pending cause of death.

Damari's mom, Jannie Perry, who faces charges of first-degree murder in her son's death, appeared before a judge Wednesday afternoon after being discharged from an area hospital.

 

Lake County Judge Raymond D. Collins set bail for Perry at $5 million, which means she would need to post $500,000 to be released from jail before her trial. When Collins asked her if she would be able to put up $500,000 to make bail, Perry said, "No, not right now."

Elizabeth Schroeder, an attorney from the public defender's office, represented Perry during the brief hearing. The 38-year-old Perry said she plans on hiring her own attorney eventually. She is due back in court the afternoon of Feb. 8.

When Perry was taken into custody by officers on Saturday, she claimed she was ill and was taken to a hospital, according to a statement by North Chicago police. She remained in the hospital receiving treatment for an unspecified illness until Wednesday.

A postmortem examination on Damari conducted Monday found an extremely cold core temperature and partially frozen internal organs, the coroner's office said in a news release. The exam also found a scattered discoloration of the skin on the right leg and postmortem thermal injury or charring over the body, the release said.

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The boy was found naked and wrapped in a plastic trash bag on Saturday in an alley near an abandoned house in Gary, the office said.

Perry faces charges of first-degree murder, concealment of a homicidal death and obstructing justice in Damari's death. Two other family members also are charged.

Damari's older brother Jeremiah R. Perry, 20, was ordered held Sunday on $3 million bail. He faces charges of aggravated battery causing great bodily harm to a child under 12, concealing a homicidal death and obstructing justice. He appeared briefly in court Tuesday morning for a hearing during which the judge assigned him a public defender.

Another older brother, whose name was not released by authorities because he is a juvenile, is being charged in Lake County juvenile court.

Police initially were told that Damari was missing from Skokie, but the investigation turned to his North Chicago home "after the family's story was contradicted," the Lake County state's attorney said.

• The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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