Kids left home alone die when space heater burns

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A Georgia mother and her boyfriend were charged with felony cruelty on Saturday morning after two of her children died in a fire late Friday night at their Dekalb County apartment.

The children, ages 4 and 3, were left home alone, according to DeKalb fire officials. Their younger brother, 2, suffered critical burns and smoke inhalation.

Angel Johnson, 29, and Keith Pinkney, 24, were arrested and charged with three counts of felony cruelty to children and one count of making false statements to police. “All I can say is I’m sorry for our actions,” Pinkney said as he walked into DeKalb Magistrate Court.

“I deserve everything I’m getting,” Johnson said quietly as she made her first court appearance. The judge set bond at $410,00 apiece. Fire investigators believe the children were trapped in their bedroom because the door was blocked.

“The door was closed to that bedroom,” said DeKalb Fire Interim Chief Edward O’Brien. “There is an issue with the exit being compromised with the obstruction of some furniture.” O’Brien said it appears the fire started with a space heater in the bedroom.

He said damage was contained to the bedroom, so the fire likely burned itself out with the children still inside. He said he doesn’t know when the fire started. Police said Johnson and Pinkney returned home at 10:50 p.m. The first 911 call came in at 10:57.

Parish said the children’s mother and her boyfriend returned to the apartment to find the fire and the children trapped. A neighbor called 911 as the two tried to perform CPR on the older two children.

Another neighbor went in to rescue the youngest child. “There is no doubt those children were left alone,” said DeKalb Police Public Information Officer Mekka Parish. “The three were in that bedroom, the mother and boyfriend were gone for a significant amount of time.”