A South Carolina mother has been charged in a fire that killed her four children. Hope Hawkins, age 21, was arrested on four charges of child neglect and three charges of homicide by neglect. Hawkins’ four children were killed in a mobile home fire last week.
Although the exact cause of the fire is unknown, the mother is being held criminally responsible for the deaths.
As reported by the Huffington Post, all four children were inside the home when firefighters arrived. Hawkins was initially absent from the scene, arriving after the first responders.
The fire spread quickly throughout the home, making it impossible to rescue the children inside. Hawkins’ children, ten-month-old twins Myasia and Kynasia Hawkins, 2-year-old Cameron Mason, and 4-year-old Delonta Dixon, all died of smoke inhalation.
As reported by SCNow.com, neighbors describe the family as friendly. Chris Dixon frequently spoke with the mother, and her children, as she walked her dog around the neighborhood. She states that the Hawkins’ were “good people. They were just lovable people.”
Timothy Century shared the home with Hawkins and her children, but was not in the home when the fire started. He states that he had walked down the street to check the mailbox, returning to find the home consumed in flames. He pointed out that the fire destroyed all of his belongings.
One of the neighbors mentioned hearing a “loud boom” just before there were visible flames. Although the cause of the fire is unknown, the mother was charged in the fire that took the lives of her four children. Officers have stated that she changed her story several times.
During a press conference, officials pointed out that the situation is still under investigation, but they have noted several inconsistencies in Hawkins’ story.
Officials have not verified Hawkins’ exact location at the time the fire began, or what she was doing.
Coroner J Todd Hardee did not find any evidence that the children had been physically abused. He concluded that all four children suffered severe burns. Smoke inhalation was listed as the cause of death.
Hawkins is currently incarcerated in the Darlington County Jail for the fire that killed her four children. A bond hearing is set to take place on April 4.
[Images via Wikimedia, and Darlington County]