Updated: Saturday, 08 Jan 2011, 9:36 PM CST
Published : Saturday, 08 Jan 2011, 10:55 AM CST
MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - A memorial service was held Saturday morning for Natalie and Chase Deblase who were murdered and their bodies dumped in the woods. Family members, and friends gathered at Mobile Memorial Gardens Funeral Home for the service.
The children's grandfather Richard Deblase said the children were happy and full of life. He said the memorial is just one step toward closure for the family.
"It's a partial closure.The memorial service is to bring reverence to them that they're in heaven now. The actual closure will be when we get the remains back from Florida, from the forensic lab, and we can actually bury them. A private ceremony will be held just for the family, and at that time maybe we can finally have closure," Richard Deblase said.
Deblase hopes something positive can come from the children's death.
"I'm hoping that if anything comes of this, that there will be a "Grandparents Bill of Rights", to where we will have better rights dealing with our grandkids." said Deblase.
Today's service comes one day after Mobile's District Attorney's office upgraded charges against the children's stepmother, Heather Keaton. She is now charged with Capital Murder.
Natalie and Chase's father, John Deblase, are charged with two counts of felony murder and abuse of a corpse. Keaton and Deblase appeared in a Mobile court Friday for a preliminary hearing.
The hearing took place in Judge Charles McKnight's courtroom. According to the lead investigator in the case, Keaton and Deblase agree that four-year-old Natalie died on March 4th, 2010. Three-year-old Jonathan died on June 20th.
However, the couple blames each other on how the children died. Keaton told investigators she believes Deblase poisoned the children. She said that in the time prior to each of the children's deaths, she smelled a toxic odor from their mouths. Keaton also said that both children vomited a black substance.
Keaton says each child was found dead in his or her room by Deblase. In both cases the couple drove a van to the woods to dump the bodies.
The detective told the judge that Deblase told a different story. According to the detective, Deblase said on March 4th, Keaton punished little Natalie by duct taping her hands and feet together. Keaton then put Natalie inside a suitcase then placed her in a closet.
Deblase told the investigator that when he left for school, he told Keaton that Natalie was not to be in the suitcase when he returned. Deblase told the detective when he returned home he found Natalie dead in the suitcase.
In Chase's death, Deblase said on June 19th the child had wet himself. Keaton duct taped his hands to his legs, duct taped a sock to his mouth, put a broomstick behind his back, and had him stand erect in a corner overnight.
Deblase told authorities that when he woke up, Chase was dead.
In 2010, Deblase showed authorities where he dump his son's body north of Vancleave, Mississippi. December 9th human remains were found in the area.
Around the same time, Deblase also showed authorities where he dumped Natalie's body near Citronelle. Search teams located human remains in that area December 11th.
The case has been turned over to the Grand Jury.