DETROIT — Two years after their siblings were discovered dead in a deep freezer, the children who survived a Detroit home filled with abuse have a new outlook for the future.
The oldest, now 19, is expected to graduate from high school this year and plans to attend college in the fall, court records show. Her 10-year-old brother has been adopted.
"They both definitely exceeded expectations,” Wayne County Circuit Judge Edward Joseph said. “Both children overcame the majority of the setbacks they encountered in the case."
Joseph terminated the parental rights of the children's mother, Mitchelle Blair, in July 2015. She is serving life in prison without the possibility of parole for killing two of her children, Stephen Berry, 9, and Stoni Blair, 13.
A crew carrying out an eviction at the family’s home in the Martin Luther King Apartments found their bodies in a deep freezer kept in the living room on March 24, 2015.
Mitchelle Blair, who beat and burned her kids before their deaths, murdered Stephen in 2012 and Stoni in 2013. The Detroit Free Press has not named the surviving children.
She has been in segregation in prison since July 19, 2015, Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman Chris Gautz said. Blair, 37, was put in a cell by herself two days after she became a prisoner with the department because she assaulted another prisoner, he said.
She has racked up 28 misconducts, with the most recent coming in October, Gautz said this week. They include throwing urine on an officer through her food slot, throwing a milk carton at an officer and repeatedly spitting on other prisoners.
“Due to her violent prison history, she remains in segregation," Gautz said.
Blair, who removed her kids from Detroit public schools and said she was homeschooling them, was accused of severely abusing all of her children. She admitted she starved Stoni and threw scalding water on her, and told a judge she made Stephen drink Windex and put a bag over his head, causing him to lose consciousness.
While she has been behind bars, her surviving children have received therapy, and both have done well in the home of their great aunt and uncle, court documents show.
The children's great aunt, who started caring for the children two years ago, declined to comment on their progress.
Court documents said the oldest child is enrolled in an independent-living program, and the boy's adoption was expected to be finalized in May 2016.
It didn't say who adopted him, but Blair made it clear during a court hearing in 2015 that she wanted the children to stay with her aunt, a retired Detroit police child abuse investigator.
During the hearing, she said her aunt worried about the kids' future and wanted to make sure they were going to be OK, "so they won't turn out like me."