DETROIT – The body of a 3-year-old boy was found in the basement freezer of a Detroit home late last week, and his mother was taken into custody after police said they determined something just wasn’t right.
Here’s everything we’ve learned about this case so far.
The discovery was made around 1 a.m. Friday (June 24) at a home in the 12700 block of Monte Vista Street, near the intersection of Grand River Avenue and Fullerton Street on Detroit’s west side, police said.
Officers were called to the home for a welfare check, according to Detroit police Chief James White.
“The house was in poor condition, and there are a lot of concerns for the other children based on what was seen in the home,” White said.
‘There was something not right’
The chief said the person who answered the door tried to push officers away, as if nothing was going on. That was the first sign that something wasn’t right at the home.
“The discovery would not have been possible without the officers’ intuition,” White said. “When they talked to the occupant of the home, they recognized that there was something not right about the conversation and the way this occupant was communicating with them.”
White said the officers called for a supervisor.
Here’s the full briefing from White:
Child’s body found
Police said the body of Chase Allen, 3, was found badly decomposing in a freezer inside the home. That freezer was in the basement, according to authorities.
It’s unclear how long the body had been inside the freezer, White said.
Over the weekend, a Wayne County medical examiner declared Chase’s death a homicide.
Mother facing charges
Officials said Chase’s mother, Azuradee France, 31, was taken into custody Friday, after police discovered the boy’s body.
On Sunday, she was officially charged with felony murder, first-degree child abuse, torture, and concealing the death of an individual.
Back in 2018, France was charged with third-degree child abuse, court records reveal. That charge was later reduced to fourth-degree child abuse, officials said. France served two years of probation, though the circumstances surrounding that sentence aren’t clear.
“Something went wrong somewhere in her past,” community activist Tamara Liberty Smith said. “Psychological evaluation, counseling -- nothing can bring the baby back. But this is deeper than sentencing someone to prison.”
France is due back in court July 15.
Other children inside home
There were five other children at the home, police said. They were taken to a nearby hospital to be checked on, and then they will be interviewed, according to Detroit police Capt. Kimberly Blackwell.
“The other kids who were in the home -- just imagine what they must have gone through and what they must have endured, being inside of that home,” White said.
Family members told Local 4 that the other children range in age from 3 months to 9 years old.
“They lived with this,” Smith said. “They saw things that we couldn’t even fathom.”
Family members said Child Protective Services had been called to France’s home previously, but her children were allowed to stay.
Relative Leslie Cannon said there were signs all along that something should have been done.
“It seems that there were red flags, and people did point towards those red flags and try to get some help,” Cannon said.
She claims other family members had to contact CPS to intervene, but that only led to temporary improvements.
“CPS was called several times, and they were taken, and they were brought back,” Cannon said. “It was just something that they missed. So, it’s very important that you do the proper steps to try to get the children help, and obviously, it looks like the system had failed Chase.”
Smith said she tried to help France multiple times.
“I’ve offered to come to bring her things, and she never would let me come to the house,” Smith said. “She always said, ‘I have to come to you.’”
Impact on family members, friends
Members of the community joined Chase’s family in mourning his death.
“My little cousin, he was a funny little boy,” Zy’air Anderson, 11, said. “He was the youngest best friend I had. I’m hurting, but God knows how I’m feeling. I know Chase is in a better place, but it still doesn’t make me stop crying. It hurts real bad. He’s only 3. You’re not supposed to do that to a kid.”
Betty Jenkins, France’s grandmother, said this has been a tragedy for everybody involved.
“It’s just a little too hard to bear for the family,” Jenkins said. “Not only for the family but the friends, neighbors, everyone who knew her.”
“I don’t feel that any kid in this world should be deceased,” Zy’air said.
A candlelight vigil and balloon release were held in front of the house on Monte Vista Street. Community activist “Pastor Mo” spoke to those in attendance.
“This one hurts deep within,” he said. “I don’t even have words to fathom the egregious act towards this child.”
Lynette Hardy said she was devastated to learn the 3-year-old next door to her was found dead.
“We had been praying that the little boy would be found,” Hardy said. “But I had no idea he would be found dead. He was blind.”
Hardy said Chase had been missing since Jan. 5. She said she had helped clothe and feed him and the five other children who lived in the house.
She said she had been told Chase had been sent away to his aunt and uncle in Alabama.
“I just wish I could have done more,” Hardy said. “I wish that I could have saved him. I just wish.”