HOUMA, La. — The mother of two-year-old Ezekiel Harry and her live-in boyfriend could potentially face the death penalty after the young child was found dead in a duffel bag in a garbage can following what Houma Police say was a fabricated search for a child that was already dead.
“This case has rocked our community,” said District Attorney Joseph Waitz who said that early evidence seems to evidence of abuse that “shocks the conscience.” He said this is “absolutely, potentially a death penalty case.”
The official cause of death has not yet been determined.
Ezekiel’s mother, Maya Jones, 28, and Jermaine Robinson, 37, were arrested and booked on first-degree murder counts Tuesday following a several hour search by helicopters and boats along Bayou Terrebonne.
Police said that Jones initially came to them with a report that her child had been taken by someone but that inconsistencies in her story immediately led them to doubt it.
A few hours into the search, Police Chief Dana Coleman said that Jones led them to Ezekiel’s body, found in a trash can on Daspit Street.
“We had problems with her story from the onset,” said Coleman at a Wednesday press conference. “We found several holes in her story and immediately suspected foul play.”
Coleman said surveillance images show Jones and Robinson in the area of Cadiere Street with a duffel bag that is now believed to have carried Ezekiel’s body. A few hours later, Coleman said video shows the pair returning without the bag.
Devastated family members on the birth father’s side found out about the discovery Tuesday evening, with the child’s paternal grandmother receiving a call, falling to the ground and crying out that Ezekiel’s body had been found.
The search for Ezekiel started around noon Tuesday after police say Jones reported him missing. She initially told police he was abducted, but that story quickly unraveled as police began to suspect foul play.
A large part of the search for Ezekiel was on the intracoastal waterway near where he was reported missing, but it was just a block away from the police department where he was found.
Neighbors on Daspit Street say police showed up out of nowhere. The homeowner of the property where Ezekiel’s body was found in the trash can says she’s shocked. She says she was laying down when she heard police outside.
“I came outside to see and I seen a lady laying down on the ground beside the trash. After that they [police] told me to go back in my house. I thought the lady was dead but after that, they came to explain that the lady said her baby was abducted, then after they interrogated her she told what happened and brought them to the trash can which was in front of my house,” said the lady who didn’t want to be identified. “I’ve got babies myself. It was scary.”
Paternal family members of Ezekiel say there are three other kids as well, ranging in age from five to ten. Family members say they are unhurt.