Stepmother, Father Accused of Torturing, Killing Kids

Remains believed to be Natalie and Chase DeBlase found

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 13, 2010 10:06 AM CST

(Newser) – An Alabama man and his common-law wife are accused of torturing his two children, who were then murdered and dumped earlier this year. Authorities believe remains discovered last week and over the weekend belong to Natalie DeBlase, who would have been 5 in November, and her brother Chase, 3. Their stepmother, Heather Leavell-Keaton, is accused of binding the children with duct tape and stuffing socks in their mouths. She allegedly kept Natalie in a suitcase for 14 hours, and strapped a broom handle to Chase's back, forcing him to stand up all night.

Their father, John DeBlase, is charged with murder. He admitted to dumping Natalie in March and Chase in June, but an investigation wasn't opened until last month, when Leavell-Keaton filed for a protective order against DeBlase and said that he may have killed his children. Leavell-Keaton, who has been charged only with child abuse at this point, was extradited from Kentucky and booked into jail today, the AP reports. DeBlase accuses her of killing the children, while she blames him; police have said she is also responsible in the killings. The couple had a child together this summer. Click for more background on the DeBlase murders.

In this undated photo provided by Richard DeBlase, Natalie, left, and Chase DeBlase are shown.   (AP Photo)
John DeBlase, father of the two children who are missing and presumed dead, is arraigned on charges before Judge Charles McKnight Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010, in Mobile, Ala.   (Press-Register, Mike Kittrell)
This Dec. 1, 2010 photo released by the Louisville Metropolitan Dept. of Corrections shows Heather Leavell-Keaton.   (AP Photo/Louisville Metropolitan Dept. of Corrections)
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