BAY CITY, Mich. – The body of a 4-year-old mid-Michigan boy was so badly burned that authorities had trouble identifying it as human remains, a prosecutor said Tuesday as a judge refused to grant bond to a man accused of abusing the child weeks earlier.
The courtroom remarks were the first public disclosure by federal authorities since Carnel Chamberlain's body was discovered under his house last week on the Saginaw Chippewa Indian reservation, 70 miles north of Lansing.
No one has been charged with the boy's death. But Anthony Bennett, who was supposed to be watching Carnel on June 21, has been charged with assaulting him in late May or early June.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles Binder declined to grant bail to Bennett, which means he will stay in jail while the investigation continues.
Defense attorney Anthony Chambers said Bennett, 20, deserved bail. But Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Wininger said he has a record of not following orders in other cases in tribal court.
Carnel lived with his mother, Jaimee Chamberlain, and Bennett, her boyfriend. The boy was last seen alive on June 21 before his mother went to work and left him with Bennett. A weeklong search on the reservation ended last Thursday.
Carnel's body was so extensively burned that "it was difficult to identify as a person," Wininger told the judge.
In a court filing, the FBI said Jaimee Chamberlain witnessed some of the abuse that led to assault charges against Bennett, a disclosure that surprised and disappointed her family.
"We can't condone the actions, or inactions, of anybody in the home," said family spokesman Kevin Chamberlain, a cousin. "It's unfortunate. Her inactions certainly didn't help where we are today. It's a tough pill to swallow."
He said the bathroom floor was soaked and the tub was less than full when Jaimee Chamberlain returned home from work and was told her son was missing.
Carnel's funeral could be delayed weeks or months because of the investigation.
"It's disappointing but understandable," Kevin Chamberlain said.