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Garner police: Toddler likely had been dead six weeks

Posted January 23, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

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— A 19-month-old boy likely had been dead for six weeks before family members found his body in his mother's apartment in mid-November, Garner police said Friday.

Sherita Nicole McNeil, 23, of 1852 Spring Drive, Garner, was charged Thursday afternoon with first-degree murder and concealing the death of a person in the death of DeVarion Montrell Gross.

DeVarion Gross Toddler suffered 'multiple injuries of violence'

McNeil was in the Wake County jail Friday afternoon after a first court appearance during which a District Court judge denied her bond.

Although investigators are still awaiting a final autopsy report, initial results found the boy suffered multiple injuries in the months preceding his death, Police Chief Tom Moss said during a news conference.

"We know that Sherita McNeil, upon DeVarion's death, which we believe occurred in early October of this past year, concealed his body in her residence for a period of approximately six weeks, using bleach to mask the smell, until he was discovered by family members," Moss said.

Family members found DeVarion in a sealed white plastic garbage bag in a second-floor closet of the home he shared with his mother and sister, according to search warrants and a 911 call released in the case. The bag was underneath sheets inside a plastic container.

"Though bleach was used to mask the odor, there was a strong, strong odor, and it would not take that much looking to find where the source of the odor was," said Christina Pappas, a special victims investigator handling the case.

McNeil's daughter is in the custody of her father's family, Pappas said. It does not appear she was abused.

"This is an ongoing investigation, and information continues to come in every day, but the evidence we have obtained tells us that this abuse was perpetrated solely against DeVarion and not her other child," Pappas said.

DeVarion's grandmother told a 911 operator she thought her grandson had been dead for about three weeks.

According to a timeline released Friday, DeVarion was last seen alive Oct. 3, when he was picked up from day care. On Oct. 6, police said, McNeil told the day care that the boy was staying with his godmother.

"Sherita McNeil repeatedly lied to family, friends and others about her son's welfare and whereabouts," Moss said.

Garner police began looking into the case on Nov. 1 after an individual close to the family began calling with concerns. Investigators tried multiple times to meet with McNeil and DeVarion but were unsuccessful, Moss said.

Pappas said she had an appointment with McNeil on Nov. 13, but that McNeil never came to it. Pappas had tried contacting her again on Nov. 14.

Although police did not give a motive for the crime, search warrants suggest they suspected McNeil might have wanted to get rid of her son.

Investigators searching the home uncovered letters from DeVarion's father, Eric Chambers, expressing concern over McNeil getting rid of their son, according to a Dec. 3 search warrant.

Chambers, who was in the Wake County jail at the time on habitual-felon charges, has been cooperative with police, investigators said Friday, and they do not believe he had any involvement in his son's death.

"I believe there was communication between (Chambers) and (McNeil), where he felt concern that she was not going to keep the child but that she was going to give the child away," Pappas said. "And because he was behind bars, he was not going to be able to stop that."

51 Comments

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  • Angeleyes1 Jan 23, 2009

    Come on, Abuse happens everyday to children that are born in a marriage, Abortion is not the solution, Watch the press conference on the case, Someone in the family knew something was going on and failed to speak up months before the murder, It all goes back to the famous words of today " Not my Problem!"

  • stupiditydeservesnosympathy Jan 23, 2009

    It's really simple. Make abortion affordable and readily available. Also take the stigma away from having an abortion and you won't have to read about single moms and their boyfriends murdering kids.

  • Angeleyes1 Jan 23, 2009

    This is a letter to the murdered little boy
    I am so sorry that you were born in such a horrible situation, I am so sorry for all the pain and suffering that you went through, May God cradle you in his arms now; Now that you will never go hungry, Now that you will never feel the strike of a angry hand, and may you now feel the love from us strangers here on earth who are mourning for you and praying for justice.

  • lovecarolinagutters Jan 23, 2009

    This is what happens when you try to raise a child without the propers emotional, physical, and financial support. teacher-mom

    I would have to disagree with your comment, there are MANY, MANY people who struggle with raising children. Emotionally, physically and financially, that don't resort to killing their own. This is pure evil.

  • soccermania Jan 23, 2009

    Mandatory sterilization is the answer!

  • Mr. Middle of the Road Jan 23, 2009

    Not everyone believes that anymore commonsensical. Now many if not most believe that works have nothing to do with it, you are forgiven unconditionally. It is not something you earn, it is a gift,

  • PaulRevere Jan 23, 2009

    There's a special place for people like this woman. May your young soul find rest, young man.

  • MizzZeta Jan 23, 2009

    May the Lord have mercy on his soul.

  • 2 Jan 23, 2009

    Wake County, make my lights flicker....

  • commonsensical Jan 23, 2009

    We're not forgiven automatically, folks. We're only forgiven if we display works that befit repentance. (This includes being tolerant of and not hostile towards others because their views don't align perfectly with ours) It's also not our place to judge others.

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