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911 call released in decapitation of 2-year-old

August 22, 2012 8:10:19 PM PDT
The 911 call from Chevonne Thomas was rambling and incoherent, but authorities said she made one thing clear: Her 2-year-old son had been stabbed, and "I did it."

What police found at her Camden rowhouse early Wednesday was even more horrifying. Thomas had decapitated her son and placed his head in the freezer.

The 33-year-old mother later fatally stabbed herself after hanging up on emergency dispatchers, a violent end to a troubled life.

Thomas only recently regained custody of son Zahree after allegedly leaving the boy unattended in a car, telling police she had smoked marijuana laced with the hallucinogenic drug PCP and blacked out in a nearby park.

Distraught family members who arrived at the scene late Wednesday morning expressed shock and declined comment. Some neighbors described strange behavior by Thomas, who had just moved to the neighborhood from elsewhere in the city. Others saw no evidence of problems.

"Because had we known something was up, I'm quite sure all the neighbors on this block would have talked to her," said Tayari Horcey, who lives a few doors from Thomas. "But, you know, people hold stuff in. You don't know what's going on."

The state's child welfare agency, the Division of Children and Families, issued a statement saying Thomas had been receiving counseling and support services since a court-ordered reunification with her son April 3.

She previously lost custody of Zahree to relatives and was ordered to undergo treatment for substance abuse and mental health disorders, the agency said. Thomas was charged with child endangerment in the 2010 car incident, but the case was dropped because of a problem with a witness, according to Jason Laughlin, spokesman for the Camden County prosecutor's office.

The gruesome events began unfolding Tuesday night in Camden, an impoverished and high-crime city across the Delaware River from Philadelphia.

Neighbor Melanie Troutman reported seeing Thomas and her boyfriend sitting on the steps of their home, a familiar sight. But Troutman said that on this night, Thomas was topless and "clearly upset." Horcey insisted Thomas was clothed.

About two hours later, Thomas called 911. During the call, she first accused her boyfriend of stabbing Zahree, but then quickly recanted.

CLICK TO LISTEN TO THE 911 CALL

"You know what, I did it, I'm lying, I'm lying, I'm lying, I did it," she said, according to a recording of the rambling, often incoherent call released Wednesday evening.

"I did it, I did it, I did it," she repeated later.

When asked if she takes medicine, Thomas said she used to take the antidepressant Prozac.

"I didn't take it today, but I should have," she said.

Police later found Zahree's body on the first floor of his mother's home, then discovered his head in the freezer. A medical examiner found a chest stab wound and marks on the child's arms, Laughlin said.

Thomas stabbed herself in the neck with a kitchen knife shortly after hanging up on dispatchers, Laughlin said.

The Department of Children and Families said its staff had visited with the family regularly and was in communication with all service providers. The agency said it would investigate the deaths of both mother and child.

The department has been under the supervision of a federal judge and undergone a major overhaul since 2003 as a result of high-profile lapses in the oversight of children.

Thelma Moore, a former neighbor, said Thomas had exhibited mental health issues during the several years she'd known her. Moore described her as being in "a world all to herself," and said Thomas had seen a behavioral health therapist.

"She just walked around and talked and cursed to herself," Moore said.

But Thomas' landlord, who did not want to be identified, said the woman had lived at the home for two months and was a perfect tenant, keeping the apartment tidy and clean.

Court records show Thomas faced dozens of judgments and liens filed in civil court in New Jersey dating back to 2002.


TRANSCRIPT FROM 911 CALL

Chevonne Thomas: Hell no, hell no, hell no. Keep thinking that. Keep thinking that.

Dispatcher: 911 where's your emergency.

Thomas: Yes, somebody just stabbed my baby. Please get here.

Dispatcher: They just did what?

Thomas: Stabbed my baby Dispatcher: Do they know who it was, ma'am?

Thomas: Yes, it's my ex, it's my boyfriend. My current boyfriend.

Dispatcher: What's your address?

Thomas: 1415 Kaighn. You know what? (dispatcher comments indecipherable) I did it. I'm lying. I'm lying. I'm lying. I'm lying. I did it.

Dispatcher: Do you need an ambulance, ma'am?

Thomas: No. I mean, no. He don't need, no.

Dispatcher: What's your name?

Thomas: Chevonne Thomas. Chevonne Thomas.

Dispatcher: Chevonne, you said your baby was stabbed. Is this your son? How old is he?

Thomas: Yes, yes, yes, yes. My son is 2. He is 2.

Dispatcher: He was the one that was stabbed?

Thomas: Yes.

Dispatcher: He was stabbed with what?

Thomas: A knife.

Dispatcher: Is he bleeding? Where is he bleeding? Is he bleeding from anywhere?

Thomas: No. I mean he is, but not much.

Dispatcher: From where.

Thomas: Not much.

Dispatcher: Chevonne, where is he bleeding from?

Thomas: Not much. He's not bleeding that much. Not bleeding that much.

Dispatcher: Where's your boyfriend at?

Thomas: I think ... I knew it. I knew it.

Dispatcher: Chevonne, Where's he at?

Thomas: My boyfriend is, he's gonna come in the back door. He's gonna come in the back door.

Dispatcher: Who did it? Your boyfriend stabbed him?

Thomas: Yes.

Dispatcher: Who else is in the house?

Thomas: I knew it. Nobody. Nobody at all. Nobody. Nobody at all.

Dispatcher: And your boyfriend is outside?

Thomas: Yep. Yep.

Dispatcher: You guys were fighting?

Thomas: Yep. Yep.

Dispatcher: Aright, we're going to send officers out there, OK?

Thomas: Yep, yep. Yep.

Dispatcher: You're at 1415 Kaighn Avenue, right?

Thomas: Yep, yep, yep.

Dispatcher: All right, we're going to send somebody out there.

Thomas: You better, wait, wait. You know what? I don't even want to play this. I did it. OK? I did it. I did it. I did it.

Dispatcher: Stay on the phone, OK?

Thomas: I keep trying to make it, I'm about to, no, I have to find some money, I got to. I got to try to find some money. I got to, I got to, I got to. I don't care.

Dispatcher: Chevonne, what's the problem?

Thomas: I knew it. I knew it. I knew it.

Dispatcher: You knew what?

Thomas: I knew it. I know. I knew it, I knew it.

Dispatcher: You knew what, Chevonne? What did you know? You need the police?

Thomas: Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, uh-UH, uh-UH. Nope. Nope.

Dispatcher: Do you need the police?

Thomas: Nope. mm-MM. mm-MM. I don't need nothing.

Dispatcher: Do you need the police?

Thomas: Nope. Um-um. I don't need nothing. I don't need nothing.

Dispatcher: How old are you, Chevonne?

Thomas: I don't need nothing. I'm 33.

Dispatcher: 33?

Thomas: 33 years old.

Dispatcher: Where do you live at?

Thomas: 1058. 1058.

Dispatcher: Where?

Dispatcher: 1058 what?

Thomas: 10. 10.

Dispatcher: 1058 what? Chevonne? Who lives at 1415 Kaighn?

Thomas: Nobody. Not me. My boyfriend is right here. He's right.

Dispatcher: Can I speak to him?

Thomas: (indecipherable) Dispatcher: Do you take medicine?

Thomas: I used to.

Dispatcher: What kind did you take?

Thomas: Prozac.

Dispatcher: Prozac. OK, you don't take it anymore?

Thomas: Nope. Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, I do.

Dispatcher: Do you still take it?

Thomas: I still take it.

Dispatcher: Did you take it today?

Thomas: I still take it. I still take it. No. no, no. I did, no. I didn't take it today, but I should have. I should have. I should have took it today.

Dispatcher: Ok, where are you? She didn't take her Prozac today.

Thomas: I did. I did. I did. Keep playing.

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