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Woman to be extradited in child deaths

Associated Press / December 13, 2010

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CITRONELLE, Ala. — A court ordered the woman accused of torturing two young children who were later killed and dumped in rural Mississippi and Alabama to be extradited to Alabama to face charges.

Heather Leavell-Keaton, who had been held in Kentucky, was returning to Mobile yesterday, a day after search teams found remains that police believe belong to one of the children.

Police said search teams found the skeletal remains near a county road in Citronelle, about 30 miles north of Mobile.

Investigators believe the remains belong to Natalie DeBlase, who would have turned 5 in late November. Skeletal remains found Wednesday in Mississippi are believed to belong to her 3-year-old brother, Chase.

The children’s father, John DeBlase, 27, was arrested on charges of murder and corpse abuse. He appeared in court on Friday in Mobile and was ordered held on $500,000 bond.

Arrest warrants in the case accuse Leavell-Keaton of abusing the boy and girl sometime after March 1.

DeBlase and Leavell-Keaton were arrested on the abuse charges, and authorities began their search for the children’s remains in Alabama and Mississippi last week. Neither child had been seen for months.

An investigation into the children’s disappearance began last month after Leavell-Keaton sought a protective order against DeBlase in Kentucky, Mobile Police Officer Chris Levy said.

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