She Said Her Son Ran Off to Buddhist Retreat in 2022. Police Just Found Her Child's Remains in a Burn Barrel

Avantae Deven has been arrested in connection with the disappearance of her son, Blake Deven, and the death of her daughter, London Deven

<p>Fayetteville Police Department</p> Blake Deven (left) and London Deven

Fayetteville Police Department

Blake Deven (left) and London Deven

A North Carolina woman has been charged with murder after authorities discovered partial skeletal remains in a burn barrel — some belonging to her missing daughter and some believed to be that of her missing son.

London Deven, 28, and Blake Deven, 17, were declared missing by the Fayetteville Police Department earlier this year, the department said in press releases at the time.

Last week, police arrested and charged their adoptive mother, 63-year-old Avantae Deven, according to the press statement.

The investigation began with a 911 call in November when one of Avantae's children told police he had not seen Blake in five years, police say, according to Spectrum News 1 and The Fayetteville Observer.

During the investigation, authorities learned of the disappearance of another child from the same household, identified as London, police said in their statement.

<p>Fayetteville Police Department</p> Avantae Deven

Fayetteville Police Department

Avantae Deven

During interviews, Fayetteville Police Sgt. Jeff Locklear said, police learned about the allegedly “appalling conditions” of the home where “at least three” of the children grew up, per The Fayetteville Observer

"Avantae Deven is said to have kept them ... in small rooms, in complete darkness at times,” Locklear claimed. “They were given little ... or no food and could earn nourishment by quote 'doing paperwork.' That means they had to write hundreds of paragraphs to apologize for behavior."

Locklear alleges that Blake was abused so severely that “his body could no longer take the inhumane treatment,” per The Fayetteville Observer and WRAL.

Avantae, authorities allege, dismembered and burned the child’s remains and forced another household member to assist her, per the outlets. (Police did not identify the member or announce charges against this person).

London, authorities allege, likely died “in the same painful way, in the same painful, callous manner that Blake died from — literal starvation and neglect,” The Fayetteville Observer and WRAL report.

In January 2024, Avantae said she saw Blake last in 2022 when he went off to a Buddhist retreat, according to a 911 call cited by The Fayetteville Observer, WRAL and ABC 11.

London was last seen in Fayetteville, N.C. in 2019, police said in their statement.

<p>Fayetteville Police Department</p> Missing Person Poster of Blake Deven

Fayetteville Police Department

Missing Person Poster of Blake Deven

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On April 12, the FPD, along with the FBI, located partial skeletal remains in a burn barrel on a Fayetteville property and sent them to the medical examiner’s office to be identified.

On June 26, the FPD announced that some of the recovered remains were London’s and other remains are believed to be Blake’s. It was not immediately clear if the FPD had confirmed the identity of the other remains as of Monday, July 1. PEOPLE has reached out to the FPD for further clarification.

Locklear says he estimates that Blake died at around the age of 10 when the family lived in a Fayetteville home, The Fayetteville Observer reports.

Investigators estimate that London died in 2019 in another home that the family moved to, where the Devens still live, per the outlet.

Avantae has been charged with first-degree murder, concealment of death and kidnapping in connection with London's death, per police. She has been charged with felony child abuse in connection with Blake's disappearance.

It wasn't immediately clear if Avantae has entered pleas or retained an attorney to speak on her behalf.

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 All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.

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