MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - It was the winter of 2010 when Mobile Police learned two children had been missing for months. The search and discovery of their bodies would send chills down all of our backs.
The remains of three-year-old Chase DeBlase were found in a wooded area in Mississippi. The sun would rise and set two more times before the remains of his sister, four-year-old Natalie, were found.
Police say their father, John DeBlase, and their stepmother, Heather Keaton, had dumped them there months earlier.
DeBlase and Keaton both face capital murder charges for killing them.
"The grand jury indictment says he did intentionally cause the death of Chase and Natalie DeBlase by poisoning, and or starvation and or dehydration and or asphyxiation and or other cause unknown to a grand jury," said Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich.
The gruesome details of their short, tortured lives are enough to haunt anyone, especially their grandfather, Richard DeBlase.
"The love that grandparents give these kids can't be matched," said Richard.
Arrest warrants said John DeBlase once allowed Keaton to bind Natalie in a suitcase for about 14 hours. The warrants also say Keaton bound Chase and made him stand in a corner while the couple went to bed.
"It has been very very hard for us. Why... why did this have to happen?" asked Richard.
Richard said he asked repeatedly to see his two grandchildren in the months before they died, but was never allowed to visit. It's why he supports a bill aimed at giving grandparents visitation rights.
"At least we would see them and know what's happened in their lives. Many people have come to us and say, 'I want to see them, be a part of their lives,'" said DeBlase.
Except the lives of the two children were cut short. Police believe Natalie was killed in March of 2010, and Chase was killed in June 2010.
Richard said he partially blames himself for not being there to protect them. He prays others won't suffer the pain he has. He believes legislation is the only option.
"I thought the bill itself was very well drafted and didn't override the rights of the parents. That's why I was surprised to the Supreme Court shot it down," he said.
State Representative Harry Shiver of Bay Minette sponsored the bill.
" House Bill 348 is now the new state law. It has not been tested in an Alabama court. My bill is a product of the Troxall Case of 2002 from the Supreme Court of the United States of America. The Supreme Court of the USA wrote a 75-page brief about Grandparents Rights. I know that over 50 percent of grandparents are raising their grandchildren. When grandparents are raising their grandchildren, they need our laws of the land to reflect this. Thank you for requesting this information. I sure hope that a grandparent somewhere is helped by this bill. This information by your news report should help all grandparents to know that we do have a viable law in the State of Alabama," Shiver said.
John DeBlase and Heather Keaton both pleaded not guilty to the capital murder charges. The state's psychologist must evaluate them.
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