DOVER - State Police investigating a 33-year-old woman charged her with abusing a corpse after finding the decomposing body of a toddler believed to be her son in the Royal Grant home where they lived.
Karen N. Hooks, of Dover, was arrested Wednesday and committed to Baylor Women's Correctional Institution after failing to post $1,000 cash bail for the misdemeanor charge.
The child, thought to be Justice Hooks, but awaiting confirmation from DNA testing, would have been about 2 years old, said Delaware State Police spokesman Master Cpl. Gary E. Fournier.
A state medical examiner determined the corpse found Wednesday was a male child, at least 1 year old, according to court documents that show investigators located it "inside a bag in a storage area in a room shared by" Ms. Hooks and a female roommate, who lived with the mother and son on Squire Circle in Royal Grant, a development off Del. 10 in Dover.
The death was a homicide caused by blunt force trauma based on the presence of a skull fracture, court documents show.
That record states that Justice was last seen Oct. 10, 2011, by the roommate, who told police that on that day Ms. Hooks "told her that she had to do something with him" and when the roommate "looked in (redacted) room, she saw that he was confined to a corner, blocked in with boxes and a table."
The document states that several objects surrounded him and "that he could only move his legs," and the roommate avoided Ms. Hooks from that point.
Authorities became aware that Justice was missing after pursuing a report to the state's Division of Family Services July 9 from a relative of the Royal Grant homeowner concerned that Ms. Hooks was pregnant and due in June, but when seen that month she was no longer pregnant "and she denied being pregnant at all," Master Cpl. Fournier said.
"She's asking ‘Where's the baby?' That's why she called DFS," he said.
That relative also was concerned that she had not seen Justice since August 2011, when he would have been about 1 year old, although she had been told that he was in the care of a Smyrna woman, Master Cpl. Fournier said.
When police could not corroborate Ms. Hooks' story (relayed in a July 13 interview) that her son was living in Smyrna, the Delaware State Police Homicide Unit secured a search warrant for the Squire Circle home.
"We're still trying to determine the legitimacy of the pregnancy," Master Cpl. Fournier said. "As far as Justice Hooks, we are assuming the remains are (his)" but awaiting further testing.
In addition to Ms. Hooks and the female roommate, the homeowner also lived at 16 Squire Circle, a brown house located in the end of a cul-de-sac.
According to the court document, Ms. Hooks gave several details about her son’s whereabouts, but eventually admitted that she lied and refused to say where he son was.
Homicide Detectives and the Medical Examiner's Office are continuing their investigation.
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