Body of Missing Ala. Boy Chase DeBlase Found, Say Police

Natalie DeBlase and Jonathan DeBlase (Personal Photo)
Missing Ala. Children Last Seen in March, June; Search Started Weeks Ago
Natalie DeBlase and Chase DeBlase (Personal Photo)

VANCLEAVE, Miss. (CBS/WKRG/AP) Police say crews found what they believe is the the body of Chase DeBlase, the missing 3-year-old Alabama boy, in a heavily wooded area near Vancleave, Mississippi.

The boy's father, John DeBlase, allegedly told police he tried to bury the body on Father's Day. But the ground was too hard, so he put the body in a garbage back and dumped it about 30 to 40 feet off the side of the road, reports CBS affiliate WKRG.

John DeBlase pleaded not guilty in a Mobile courtroom this morning to charges of aggravated child abuse and abuse of a corpse.

Mobile Police Officer Chris Levy said the discovery of a boy's bones in rural Mississippi gives authorities enough evidence to file two murder charges against John DeBlase. Levy said authorities are convinced the remains found Wednesday morning are those of Chase DeBlase, but they're conducting tests to confirm the identity.

Police have still not found the body of Chase's 5-year-old sister Natalie. DeBlase told police he buried her near Citronelle in North Mobile County.

Investigators only began searching for the bodies of two young Alabama children just weeks ago, but police say they were last seen in March and June. Their disappearance wasn't reported until police in Kentucky received a tip recently from a relative of the stepmother, police said. Mobile police said they began investigating Nov. 19.

The children's father, John DeBlase, 27, admitted to burying Jonathan and Natalie, in March and June, but claimed it was their stepmother Heather Leavell-Keaton who killed them, police said. Police aren't ready yet to charge Leavell-Keaton with killing either of the children, but Levy has said that both suspects shared responsibility for their deaths.

According to Levy, DeBlase had a problem remembering exactly where the bodies are located because the children were buried at two different times. He said the father told investigators that he buried the boy's body around the end of March in Mississippi and later disposed of his daughter's body near the end of June in Alabama.

It remains unclear whether the children were killed at the same time.