Mobile Ala. Cops: Father, John DeBlase, Says 2 Missing Children Dead, Buried

Natalie DeBlase and Jonathan DeBlase (Personal Photo)
Mobile Ala. Cops: Father John DeBlase Says 2 Missing Children Dead, Buried
Natalie DeBlase and Jonathan DeBlase (Personal Photo)

MOBILE, Ala. (CBS/WKRG/AP) Investigators say they are searching for the bodies of two young Alabama children after their father told police his 3-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter are dead and had been buried.

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According to CBS affiliate WKRG, John DeBlase told police that his two young children, Natalie and Chase, are dead and buried, prompting corpse-abuse charges and a search by cadaver dogs for their bodies.

"We know that both of them are going to be responsible for the deaths of both children," Mobile police spokesman Christopher Levy said Saturday. "But the exact details of how they died, it's still too early to tell."

DeBlase and the children's stepmother have both been charged with child abuse.

Levy said about 20 officers and search-and-rescue workers were unable to find the children's bodies after combing a wooded area north of Vancleave, Miss., about 55 miles west of Mobile, from morning until dark Saturday.

He said police chose that area to search in part based on information the children's father gave them about where he recalls burying the bodies.

"He has been cooperative and we've been able to speak to him a bit," Levy said.

DeBlase was arrested Friday in the Florida Panhandle town of Navarre and charged with two counts of aggravated child abuse and two counts of abuse of a corpse. He is now jailed in Mobile.

According to WKRG, the children were last seen in July during an outing in Mobile, but their disappearance wasn't reported until police in Kentucky received a tip recently from a relative of the stepmother's, police said. Mobile police said they began investigating about a week ago.

On Wednesday, police in Louisville, Ky., arrested the children's stepmother, Heather Leavell-Keaton, and charged her with child abuse.

Police say the charges of abuse of a corpse filed against the father resulted from evidence he buried the bodies without proper respect.