That’s what Jameria Hall’s neighbors said they heard the night of Aug. 19, five days before the bodies of her children Da’Neria, 6, and Davin Thomas, 8, were found inside their Southwest Baltimore apartment.
Charging documents describe a gruesome crime scene, discovered by a maintenance man asked to look into a foul smell coming from the apartment.
Davin was found in a sleeping bag, with a knife still stuck in his chest and a black trash bag over his head. Da’Neria was found in the bathtub.
Police said Wednesday that Hall, 28, confessed to killing the children when she was interviewed by detectives. She is charged with two counts of first-degree murder.
District Court Judge Kent J. Boles ordered Hall held without bond at brief hearing Thursday afternoon and scheduled a bail review for Sept. 9, after Hall’s public defender asked to have a competency evaluation for her client.
Family members, meanwhile, are grieving the two young children who should have been getting ready for a new school year, and questioning why they remained in the care of their mother.
Theodore Thomas, the children’s paternal grandfather, said Thursday that he and his wife cared for the children at some point after Hall was charged in 2018 with arson and child endangerment after setting items, including family photos, on fire in her own mother’s home.
In a brief interview, Thomas said a child welfare agency took the children from him and his wife and returned them to Hall.
“They gave my grandchildren back to their mother after she lit the house on fire with them inside,” he said. “They took those kids. Why would they do that?”
Hall, who dismantled all the smoke detectors before setting the fire with her children in the home, pleaded guilty to first degree arson and received a five-year sentence with all but one year suspended.
Months after being arrested in the arson case, Hall filed for custody of the children and was granted it when their father didn’t respond to the court proceedings, records show. There is no indication in the court records about any actions Child Protective Services may have taken to protect the children.
But Thomas asserts that the children were taken from him and his wife’s care.
“My babies might still be alive today if they hadn’t taken them,” Thomas said.
Thomas did not specify the agency.
A spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Human Services, which includes Child Protective Services, said Wednesday that confidentiality laws prevent her from confirming the agency’s involvement in the case.
Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said previously that investigators are working with Maryland Child Protective Services as part of the police investigation, which includes the interaction between the Child Protective Services and the family after Hall set the fire.
Hall often posted about her children on social media. “My two little best friends. They perfect to me. A bond that can never be broken,” she wrote on Facebook in April.
But there had been lingering signs of trouble since the fire and the ensuing criminal case in 2018. Hall posted about her struggles on Facebook.
“In the beginning of the 2020 pandemic I found myself going back into depression,” she wrote. “I was not able to work because my family needed me at home. Every month I had supervised probation office visits. I suffer from myofacial pain syndrome. PTSD always taps me on the shoulder and triggers my anxiety.”
In court Thursday, Hall’s public defender asked the judge to order a competency hearing, and requested that Hall be held in a hospital instead of jail, saying it would give her greater access to psychological care and medications.
“She is unable at this time to assist in her own defense,” Deborah Levi, Hall’s public defender, said at the hearing.
The judge ordered a psychiatric evaluation but said it must take place in a correctional facility, where Hall will remain for two weeks until the bail review hearing.
According to charging documents in the children’s deaths, police said Hall was last seen with them Aug. 19 outside of the apartment building, in the 500 block of Coventry Road. Neighbors said they heard screaming from inside the apartment on the night of Aug. 19 into Aug. 20.
Hall’s mother told police she spoke to Hall Aug. 23. She said Hall told her she was in the hospital and the children’s father was taking care of them.
The father told police that he had not seen the children. But he had seen Hall, walking in the area of North Avenue and Bloomingdale Road, “screaming and cursing at no one” and that she “appeared to be under the influence.”
After the children’s bodies were discovered, police tracked Hall down, determining she was in an Uber and possibly heading to the area of Philadelphia Road and Rossville Boulevard in Baltimore County. Members of the Regional Auto Theft Task Force located her and took her into custody.