Prosecutors confirmed Wednesday that Chevonne Thomas decapitated her 2-year-old son, then killed herself. Authorities say Thomas called 9-1-1 just after midnight and told them something had happened to her child. When they arrived at her home, they found the boy's head in the freezer.
New Jersey's child-welfare agency says it will review its role in the case of a mother who decapitated her 2-year-old son and killed herself just five months after regaining custody of the child.
The Department of Children and Families says it had been working with members of Chevonne Thomas' family to support the woman and her son, who were reunited under a court order in April.
On Wednesday, police found the body of 2-year-old Zahree Thomas on the first floor of the Camden rowhouse he shared with his mother. Authorities say Chevonne Thomas fatally stabbed herself in the neck after calling 911 to report her son's slaying.
Thomas lost custody of Zahree after being charged in 2010 with child endangerment.
Prosecutors say the 33-year-old mother called 911 just after midnight and told them something had happened to her child.
On Wednesday evening Camden released the 911 call Thomas made after she killed her son.
"The information they were receiving was very muddled, but it led them to believe there was a child that was in jeopardy," said Camden County Prosecutor's Office spokesman Jason Laughlin.
On the phone Thomas sounds confused as dispatchers try to get her to answer questions like her name, where her son was stabbed and how old he is. Originally says tells a dispatcher her boyfriend had stabbed the child but then she admits to committing the murder.
"You know what, I did it, I'm lying, I'm lying, I'm lying, I'm lying, I did it," Thomas said.
Police immediately found the boy's body on the first floor of the home and his head in the freezer. Prosecutors say the officers then noticed there was someone else upstairs.
Originally prosecutors said police left the house but later they clarified that police maintained a position at the bottom of the stairs throughout the incident.
About five minutes after the 911 call Thomas stabbed herself just moments before police entered the home through a second-story window, prosecutors said.
"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," said Laughlin.
Thomas was no stranger to authorities. She was arrested in Nov. 2010 on a child endangerment charge after she left Zahree in a car and lost custody of the boy. Prosecutors said that during that incident Thomas allegedly admitted to smoking PCP and marijuana.
Prosecutors say the charges were dropped last October due to insufficient evidence. In April she regained custody of Zahree.
The state Department of Children and Families also was familiar with Thomas and supplied 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.
Thomas leaves behind an 18-year-old daughter, according to prosecutors.