An already-volatile parenting situation in Camden, NJ, took a tragic turn for the worse last night when 33-year-old Chevvone Thomas and her 2-year-old son Zahree died in a murder-suicide.
According to the prosecution, Chevonne stabbed her son multiple times, then decapitated him and put his head in a freezer. Before stabbing herself to death with a kitchen knife, she called 911 just after midnight to tell them something had happened to Zahree, initially blaming the attack on a boyfriend, then admitting to committing the murder herself.
“The information they were receiving was very muddled, but it led them to believe there was a child that was in jeopardy,” Camden County Prosecutor’s Office spokesman Jason Laughlin told NBC Philadelphia.
Chevonne, who leaves behind an 18-year-old daughter, reportedly stabbed herself just minutes before investigators arrived at her home around 12:30 am. Instantly, they found the boy’s body on the first floor of the home and his head in the freezer. Later, officers noticed the mother’s body upstairs.
“Everybody here is very shaken up. (Someone) from my office says it’s one of the most grisly things he’s seen on the job,” Laughlin added.
It’s hard to say what the mother’s motive was, but this isn’t the first time there has been a disturbance at the home. In November 2010, Chevvone was arrested on a child endangerment charge after she left Zahree in a car and lost custody of him. Chevonne allegedly admitted to smoking PCP and marijuana at the time and the charges were eventually dropped last October due to insufficient evidence. In April she regained custody of Zahree.
The state Department of Children and Families confirmed in a statement that they knew Chevonne well and provided her with programming.
At this time we can confirm that DCF did have an open case and was working with all family members to support the mother and her child, who had recently been reunified consistent with the court’s order of April 3, 2012. As has been reported in the media, Zahree had previously been residing with relatives while his mother sought court-ordered treatment for substance abuse and mental health disorders.
The services and supports provided to the family by community and state agencies were extensive and included therapeutic reunification services, individual counseling and medication monitoring, substance abuse testing and treatment, parental capacity evaluation, post reunification services, job training and child care. Our staff visited with the family regularly, and was in communication with all service providers.
A neighbor told CBS news that Chevonne exhibited mental health issues and she reportedly admitted to the 911 dispatcher that she was taking Prozac. Though it’s hard to pinpoint what caused Chevonne to hit the tipping point, it appears there may have been a number of factors that led to this sad tragedy. So, far there’s been no mention of the boy’s father.
View more videos at: http://nbcphiladelphia.com.
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