Mother charged with murder of 6-year-old, siblings accused of hiding body in Gary, IN: police

'He's not replaceable! We can't go back and get another Damari'

ByTre Ward and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team via WLS logo
Sunday, January 9, 2022
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The mother and two siblings of 6-year-old Damari Perry have been charged in connection to his murder, officials say.

NORTH CHICAGO, Ill. (WLS) -- The mother of a missing 6-year-old boy who was found dead in Gary, Indiana has been charged with his murder, according to police. Two of the boy's siblings have also been charged with hiding his body.

The body of 6-year-old Damari Perry was found Friday night near an abandoned home on Van Buren Street, just off 7th Avenue in Gary, according to police. Three family members were taken into custody in connection with his death.

"This is not replaceable. He's not replaceable! We can't go back and get another Damari,' said the boy's cousin, Dreena Driver.

Damari's mother, 38-year-old Jannie M. Perry, has been charged with first-degree murder, concealment of a homicide and obstruction of justice, Lake County (IN) prosecutors announced Saturday afternoon.

""We're all shocked! We're all in disbelief! We all don't understand how she could let it get to this point," Dreena added. "My little cousin should've been away from her!"

Jeremiah R. Perry, the boy's 20-year-old brother, has also been charged with aggravated battery, concealing a homicide and obstruction of justice. A third family member, only identified as a juvenile sibling, is also facing charges, officials said.

The family initially provided information to police indicating that Damari might be missing in Skokie, but investigators said they quickly turned their focus to the boy's home in North Chicago after the family's story was contradicted by evidence.

"Prosecutors, investigators, and victim support professionals worked late into the night and into the early morning to make sure we understood this tragic crime now, because of their rigorous and detailed investigation, we will be able to bring Damari's killers to justice in a courtroom," Lake County (IL) State's Attorney Eric Rinehart said.

More charges could be filed as the investigation continues, prosecutors added.

"I'm lost, man. I feel like I lost a part of myself when I got that call," said the young boy's father, Dalvin Driver.

Damari is Dalvin's youngest child out of five.

"He was the best thing you can ever have for the time that I had to spend with him. It was some of the best time that I had in my life," Dalvin said. "He was just the life of me, man. It's like you can walk in the room and everybody loved him!"

The boy was reported missing shortly before 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 5, but was allegedly last seen between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. the day before. The FBI joined a multi-department search for the boy, who they said went missing under "unusual circumstances."

"Why would a person hurt a child, my child at that," Dalvin said.

North Chicago police initially said Damari's disappearance came after the boy and his sister were allegedly driven to a party in Skokie. Now, investigators say that story from family members was not true.

"[It's] been like a nightmare that ended yesterday when they told me my son wasn't coming home," Dalvin said.

"She traumatized a lot of people with this," Dreena added. "I pray God don't have no mercy on none of their souls for what they did to him because they hurt my whole family."

Now, Dalvin prays for justice to come as he plans to lay his youngest child to rest.

"I just wish he was still here," Dalvin said. "I only had a little time to spend with my baby, man. I wish that I had more. Basically, I just wish he was still here."

An autopsy is scheduled for next week in Indiana, officials said.

The three accused are expected to appear in court for a bond hearing Sunday.