Ebony Espree Berry (pictured), who joined a pro-hunger group and wound up allegedly starving her teen daughter to death last June, has now been charged with felony murder, and two counts of cruelty to children in the first degree, according to the Smyrna-Vinings Patch.
Berry’s mentally disabled 16-year-old daughter, Markea Blakely-Berry, (pictured) weighed a mere forty-three pounds at the time of her death and was extremely malnourished, according to Atlanta, Ga., police investigators.
Berry’s relatives blew the whistle on her, reporting to police that they suspected child abuse and starvation. According to the deceased child’s paternal grandmother, Cheryl Goree, who spoke to WOOD-TV at the time of the child’s death, “She hated her. She punished her daughter. She didn’t have to kill my grand baby like that,” lamented the senior.
After the allegedly negligent 36-year-old mom was cuffed by police, family members discovered that Berry had somehow involved herself with a Facebook group that encourages hunger. Goree told WOOD-TV last June how her granddaughter, who functioned at a third grade level, once sent her an eerie picture she had drawn of a Thanksgiving family gathering where there were heaps of food on the table but empty plates.
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Family members surmise that Berry hated Markea because she was a premature baby born with medical problems which affected her mental capabilities. When Berry lived in Grand Rapids, Mich., she was reportedly investigated several times by child protective services on suspicion of child abuse and neglect. It was alleged during one investigation that Berry would often lock Markea in a room with “pee pads,” and a urinal.
Markea’s father, Mark Blakely, who was shocked upon hearing how his daughter had passed away, felt the mother bolted to Atlanta because she wanted to escape the state’s prying agency investigators. “She ran to do wrong. Nobody helped, nobody tried to stop her,’ Blakely told WOOD-TV at the time.
Neighbors who spoke to WSB-TV upon hearing of Markea’s passing told reporters they had never seen the child or her siblings leave their home to attend school. The neighborhood residents also told WSB-TV that Markea had run away once but was discovered at a department store. The teen’s brother also tried leaving Berry’s home as well but was later found hiding in a tree.
Meanwhile, Berry remains in custody at the Cobb County Jail on $75,000 bond. If convicted of the charges, she faces a maximum of life in prison.