A 21-year-old woman from Louisiana is being charged with negligent homicide after her unattended toddlers died in a house fire.
Claire Johnson left her two small children, 3-year-old Clifton Thompson Johnson and 4-year-old Ta’shae Thompson Johnson, alone in their house on Monday for several hours, while she went to a hair salon to have her hair done and left two space heaters on in the house. While she was gone, the space heater caught on fire. The home soon became engulfed in flames, killing both of the young children.
Local fire marshals in the Louisiana town where Johnson lived with her children have said that the gas heaters were left on near flammable materials, which is what led to the fatal fire.
When authorities first spoke with Claire Johnson, she originally told them that she made arrangements for someone to care for the children. However, this later turned out not to be the case, and it does not appear that she made any efforts to provide care for the children or to check on their well being while she was away.
According to local news reports, Johnson had originally locked herself in her car and threatened to harm herself, when authorities approached her after she arrived on the scene. She was sent for a psychiatric evaluation at the local Brentwood Psychiatric Hospital located in Shreveport, Louisiana, but was then released back into police custody on Friday afternoon.
A small trailer home located near the house was threatened by the flames. Neighbors rushed to help the family inside, and evacuated a mother and her young children. However, no one was aware at the time that Johnson had left the two toddlers home alone. It appears that someone then contacted Claire Johnson regarding the fire, and they then became aware that the two small children were still inside the home. Neighbors rushed the house and attempted to reach the children, but by the time they were made aware that the children were trapped inside of the house, the flames were out of control, and no one was able to reach them. Both children tragically perished.
Johnson will face criminal charges on two counts of negligent homicide for the death of her two children. Other charges related to child abuse and neglect could also follow.
[Image: Alanna Quillen, KTVE/KARD]