Englewood, IL – Police have charged the mother and aunt of two toddlers who were killed in an apartment fire Saturday.
Twenty-three-year-old Tatiana Meakens and 22-year-old Britany Meakens were charged with two counts of felony for endangering a child causing death and two counts of misdemeanor for endangering the life and health of a child, according to NBC Chicago.
Early Saturday morning, 2-year-old Jaryiah and 3-year-old Jarvis Meakens were left alone with two other children when a fire broke out inside their Englewood apartment. A relative helped the other two children out of the building, but the two toddlers were left trapped inside the building.
Neighbor Tiffany Williams said, “They (the two other children) said they heard the baby crying, beating on the door but they couldn’t go back to get her cause they were choking on the smoke.”
A resident called 911 around 3:30 am and told police that young children were trapped inside the burning building. When the fire department arrived at the apartment in the 6400 block of South Paulina Street, the fire had blown out a window. The flames quickly spread making it difficult for firefighter to reach the children.
The firefighters had to cut the bars off a basement window to reach the children but were unable to reach the toddlers, whose bodies were found in a middle bedroom in the first floor, three-bedroom apartment.
Investigators are still looking into the cause of the fire.
Williams said the surviving children, ages 4 and 7, said they had been left by themselves for a long time while the sisters attended a party. They were taken into custody by the Department of Children and Family Services.
Tatiana and Britany Meakens are scheduled to appear in bond court Monday, December 24.
A little less than two weeks ago, a Kentucky mother was sentenced to 25 years in prison for killing two of her children as part of a scheme to collect her husband’s life insurance policy. Billi Jo Smallwood set fire to her Fort Campbell home in an attempt to kill her soldier husband, Wayne Smallwood, and cash in his $400,000 life insurance policy. Smallwood had purchased a container of gasoline 12 hours prior to setting the fire.