Ala. dad admits burying children, blames stepmom

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — A father whose missing children are believed to be dead told investigators he buried one of them in Mississippi and the other in Alabama but says it was their stepmother who killed them, police said.

But she is pointing the finger at him.

Mobile police say John Deblase, 27, has admitted burying his two children — 5-year-old Natalie and 3-year-old Chase — in March and June.

DeBlase was being held on $206,000 bond. He is charged with child abuse and corpse abuse. Meanwhile, the children’s stepmother, Heather Leavell-Keaton, is jailed in Louisville, Ky. on child abuse charges. She will soon be extradited back to Alabama. The couple had been together since 2008 but were not legally married.

The children were last seen this summer, Mobile Officer Chris Levy said.

DeBlase has been trying to help investigators find the bodies, which led to searches over the weekend in rural areas of Alabama and Mississippi, but nothing was found, Levy said.

“He’s placing the blame on Heather, and Heather’s placing the blame on him,” he said. “Both of them are ultimately responsible for the deaths.”

Levy said DeBlase has had difficulty remembering the exact locations because the children were buried at two different times.

He said the father told investigators 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.

“We’re really trying to figure that out right now,” Levy said. “Without the bodies, it’s difficult to know.”

The children’s biological mother said she is still holding out hope they will be found alive.

“Until the police come to me and say they have their bodies, I won’t believe it,” Corrine Heathcock, who is divorced from DeBlase, told The Mississippi Press. “If they do tell me that, then I want to bury them together. They were always inseparable. I couldn’t separate them in death.”

DeBlase was arrested Friday in the Florida Panhandle, and does not have an attorney. It was not immediately clear if Leavell-Keaton had a lawyer in Kentucky.

Heathcock said she made the best possible choice for her children when she and DeBlase divorced.

“I wasn’t living in a place that was suitable for children,” she said in The Mississippi Press article. “He was the best thing for them. He loved them. I would have never let him take them if I thought otherwise.”

Heathcock said things were fine for a while, but then DeBlase stopped letting her see the children. She said he’d make up excuses for why she couldn’t see them and eventually stopped answering his phone.

Heathcock said she last saw her children on Nov. 18, 2009.

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