COBB COUNTY, Ga. -- A Cobb County grand jury has indicted Ebony Espree Berry on murder charges in the starvation death of her teenage daughter.
The indictment alleges that Berry, 36, of Smyrna, failed to provide adequate nutrition and medical care for Markea Berry, 16, who weighed 43 pounds when she died in June 2012 at the family's home in Smyrna.
Berry is charged with murder, felony murder, and two counts of cruelty to children in the first degree. The indictment was handed down March 28, 2013.
An 11Alive News investigation uncovered disturbing details about the family and its run ins with the law and social workers.
In 2010, Markea ran away and was later found at a nearby Walmart where she told investigators she often went there to sleep overnight because she felt she was burden to her mother.
Requested records from the Georgia Division of Family and Children's Services that showed a caseworker had ongoing contact with the family. That individual described Markea as "extremely thin". DFACS said an investigation fizzled because Ebony Berry was uncooperative.
"The case should have remained open and that child should have been followed up on," admitted DFACS Director Ron Scroggy. He was not in charge of the agency at the time the Berry family was in the system.
11Alive News flew to Michigan to talk to Ebony Berry's family. They acknowledged more than a dozen complaints from social workers when she lived there.
Documents obtained from the state of Michigan detailed that Ebony Berry placed her son in a tub of freezing water for wetting the bed. A caseworker noted that Berry hit Markea in the head with a shoe.
If convicted of all charges, Ms. Berry could face a maximum of life in prison plus 20 years.
Berry remains in custody at the Cobb County Jail on $75,000 bond.
An arraignment date has not been set.
Atty. Rick Kimberly has been appointed to represent Ms. Berry. 11Alive News reached out to Kimberly by phone but he has not returned our call.