Shaqueta McDade (pictured) was charged with 4 counts of negligent homicide on Sunday after four of her children burned to death in her Rayne, Louisiana trailer home, reports NBC affiliate News 33.
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The children who perished in the fire were Jamari McDade, 8; Amous Mouton Jr., 7; LaShay McDade, 5, and Brian Steiner, 2. Neighbors tried to save the children but the heat was too intense, according to investigators.
The blaze began before midnight and, by the time firefighters arrived on the scene, the trailer was completely engulfed in flames. Investigators are not sure of how the fired started, though they believe it started in the living room of the home. Due to the severe damage caused by the flames, accidental causes for the fire were unable to be ruled out, and the cause is being classified as undetermined at this time.
Police are also still trying to piece together McDade’s whereabouts at the time of the fire. A fifth child, Tyron, was staying with relatives on the night his other siblings died in the fire.
A neighbor had reportedly called police on Friday night to alert them to the fact that the children had been left alone in their home, but they were returned to their mother on Saturday morning. A neighbor, Melinda Miller, told News 33 that the children were often left alone by McDade.
“They were too young to be home alone, entirely too young,” she said.
A month ago, another neighbor called police when she saw McDade’s toddler walking the streets by himself at midnight.
The investigation is ongoing.