Detroit mother accused of torturing and murdering her 3-year-old son and then concealing the boy’s body in a freezer pleaded not guilty to murder and other charges on Sunday, CNN reports.
Azuradee France, 31, who also has five other children who resided in her home, was additionally charged with first-degree child abuse, torture and concealing a death by Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy.
France’s next hearing is scheduled for July 8, the prosecutor’s office says. PEOPLE was unable to reach her attorney.
The deceased boy has been identified by family members in news reports as Chase Allen.
During a Friday news conference, Detroit Police Chief James White described the boy’s death as “a tragic case”, saying it was a sight nobody should have to see.
“The other kids — just imagine what they must have gone through and what they must have endured being inside of that home. And yes, a child was decomposing and yes, a child was found in the freezer,” White said.
After Child Protective Services workers were contacted by an unknown caller on Friday, three police officers on the scene interviewed France. According to White, “It was determined that the 3-year-old child was deceased in his home in the basement and sadly found in a freezer. This case has shocked me, it’s shocked our investigators, but the discovery would not have been possible without the officers’ intuition.”
It is unclear how long Chase had been in the freezer.
“When they talked to the occupant of the home they recognized that there was something not right about the conversation and the way this occupant was communicating with them,” White said, alleging that France was acting oddly and responding in a way meant to “push the officers away as if there was nothing go on.”
But “their intuition and their experience led them to know that something was wrong,” White said.
Subsequently, the boy’s body was discovered. White said the police officers are receiving support after having made the tragic discovery. France’s other children were taken to the hospital to be evaluated and are in the custody of Child Protective Services, according to Police Capt. Kimberly Blackwell, who also spoke during Friday’s news conference.
“The police department offers a lot of resources for parents and those in need, so just don’t feel like you’re alone,” Blackwell said, adding that the Detroit Police Department offers “victims counseling, chapels and peer support.”
The Wayne County’s Prosecutor’s Office was not immediately available for further comment when contacted by PEOPLE.
A GoFundMe has been set up to help pay for Chase’s funeral expenses.
If you suspect child abuse, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to www.childhelp.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.