Investigation Continues Into Fire That Claimed 3 Children

November 3, 2011

Friends and family gathered outside the burned out shell of home on 1st Street in Atmore Thursday, remembering three children killed in a house fire, as investigators poured over the scene for evidence.

“I’m really sad right now,” Anthony Coley, grandfather of the three children, said. “I really don’t know what to do. I lost all my grand kids.”

He identified the children as 3-year old Aniyia Abner, 3-year old Takia Abner and 22-month old Michael Coleman. He said the children belonged to two different mothers, 18-year old twins Akeivia Abner and Jekeevia Abner.

“I really miss them all,” Coley said.

Just a few feet away, investigators from the Alabama Fire Marshal’s Office and the Atmore Department worked to determine the exact cause the Wednesday night blaze.  As first reported Wednesday night by, initial reports said that an oven door was open inside the home at the time of the fire, perhaps indicating that it was being used as a heat source.

For more photos from Thursday morning’s investigation at the home, click here.

Photographs taken Thursday morning (see top of  page) clearly show the oven door inside the kitchen of the home propped partially open. But it was not immediately known if that was the cause of the fire;  the Alabama State Fire Marshal’s Office will continue their investigation and make a final determination.

Reports indicated that the two young mothers were at another location several blocks from the home at the time of the fire. Authorities said that, depending on the outcome of the Fire Marshal’s investigation, the two mothers could be charged in connection with the death of their children.

For an earlier story about the fire, including photos from the aftermath of the fire Wednesday night, click here.

For more photos from Thursday morning’s investigation at the home, click here.

Pictured top: This photo shows the oven door propped open inside the kitchen of a home were three children died in a house fire Wednesday night. Pictured inset: Family and friends prayed in the street in front of the home with Anthony Coley, grandfather of the three children. Pictured bottom inset: A makeshift memorial outside the home. Pictured below: The remains of a 1st Street home in Atmore. photos, click to enlarge.


43 Responses to “Investigation Continues Into Fire That Claimed 3 Children”

  1. Mother of 3 on November 13th, 2011 1:24 pm

    All i gotta say is, there is NO apparent reason children that young should be left alone!! I ain’t judging nobody cause who am i to do that but i will say whatever happens, happens!! My prayers goes out to the families and R.I.P Children

  2. GARY EVANS on November 9th, 2011 3:11 pm

    ONLY GOD knows the true. these man made laws is so sinful. the words says judge you not, or you will be judge. YES it was wrong for my great niece to leave the kids along. Neverthelesswe we all will be judge by GOD. Ask yourself what would GOD in this matter? Twins your uncle Red from VA. loves you. My prayers go out to you.

  3. JIM W on November 8th, 2011 10:47 pm

    David H Green you are spot on again. Good job. At best this is a sad thing and three innocent children have lost their life as a result of irresposibility. You think you can just arrive and be forgiven as you stated you may be in for a surprise.

  4. David Huie Green on November 6th, 2011 10:29 am

    “Et tu Judas?
    Would you explain it to him DHG?”

    I’m not sure what I would be explaining.

    Et tu Judas is a combination of what Caesar said to his friend, Brutus, when Brutus joined in to kill Caesar and the knowledge that Judas Iscariot would — with a kiss — betray Christ to the Romans to be crucified and offered as the sacrifice which alone could save us from our sins. It’s especially interesting in that the actions of Judas were essential but that he died condemned as being a devil.

    There are those who believe all are forgiven of all sins and that all are saved despite the teachings of Christ and others that repentance is required. You can’t just say, “I want forgiveness for my evil actions even though I intend to continue to act this way in the future,” and expect the Lord to say, “ALL IS HUNKY DORY MY CHILD, ENTER INTO THE JOY OF MY KINGDOM.” Well, you CAN expect it but may be in for a surprise.

    Many can not separate condemnation of sinful acts from condemnation of people. Jesus said to the woman caught in the act of adultery, “Neither do I condemn thee. Go and sin no more.” He wasn’t telling her those actions were just fine with him, but rather that he would not condemn her to stoning death and to stop doing such things. Whether she listened or not is a matter of speculation.

    If these kids understood what they were doing, that is especially evil.
    If they were just thoughtless, that is especially sad .

    The belief that everybody else is to blame if we didn’t interfere in their lives doesn’t really make sense since nobody wants to be bothered by others.

    David for children

  5. George on November 6th, 2011 7:01 am

    Et tu Judas?

    Would you explain it to him DHG?

  6. Concern citizden on November 6th, 2011 12:11 am

    This is tragic,painful,crying for what happen to those 3 babies any one with common sense wouldn’t have left those babies in the house by them self i know that wasn’t nothing more important that yall had to leave those kids in the house by them self what could they have done one couldn’t take care of the other and the both of u should pay the price how could the both of u could lay down and get kids but couldn’t take care of them kids don’t ask to be her and if u and ur sister couldn’t take care of them why didn’t yall gave them to some one that could have gave them a good home i know they had grand mother and grand dads that could have help with them it seem like yall couldn’t take care of each other i feel sorry for the babies but the both of u was 18th but didn’t have the mind to be a mother but now that the doth of u lost babies #1 please do not bring another child in to this world u all are not ready to be mothers and yall need to pay for the lost of the babies but one thing god don’t make mistake.

  7. Teresa on November 6th, 2011 12:03 am

    I am real sorry about your lose. My family and I will keep you in our prayers. I know with the hoildays right around the corner it is gonna be hard. we know we just lost a love one to. God bless you all.

  8. Betty on November 5th, 2011 11:30 pm

    Bottom line….3 children have died due to parental neglect and the parents need to be held responsible and punished. Motherhood should have been priority 1 over anything else they wanted to do. If you are not willing to put your child first then don’t have children.

  9. David Huie Green on November 5th, 2011 3:57 pm

    “you might be guilty of the same thing, maybe worse you just haven’t been caught.”

    We’re all guilty of some things but if everybody here were guilty of the same thing, I’m pretty sure you would’ve read about it. Generally people speak out against the things they DON’T do, not the things they do.

    Part of the benefit of comments is that it allows people to say what they think and learn what others think. Now you know if you do the same thing, several will think ill of you. In fact, if you do anything which leads to deaths, several will think that was a bad thing. Go figure.

    David not knowing the details,
    only the results and nightmares

  10. A HEART THAT GOES OUT TO THE FAMILY on November 5th, 2011 12:10 pm


  11. Pointinview on November 5th, 2011 9:57 am

    It makes me sick that all these relatives are coming out to the public and saying that we should not be critical of what the mothers did. Where were these relatives when the babies were alone? where were they when they should have seen the signs of neglect? IF DHR was already involved then that should have been a big sign to the family that these girls were not capable of taking care of these kids and they should have gotten involved. These babies had no one to stand up for them. I don’t think the mothers should be beat or locked up for the rest of their lives but I do think they should be fixed so that they can not have anymore children and they should be punished for what they did and they should be provided with counseling. IT is obvious their parents never taught them right from wrong or taught them to be responsible. If i had a relative that was not taking care of their children no only would I do something myself but I would work to see that the children were put in a home where someone could care for them. There is too much of this going on. How many babies were hungry and cold last night and even alone because of irresponsible parents. If anyone knows of any then they should do something because it is only a matter of time.

  12. 429SCJ on November 5th, 2011 7:14 am

    There are cultural and demographic issues here, that require tolerance. If these people want to have children at whatever age they want to, that is their affair. They dont tell me how to live my life, and I am not going to try and judge, or tell them how to conduct their life. Sorry about the children. Bad things happen.

  13. Momma of 2 on November 5th, 2011 6:18 am

    As a mother I couldn’t even imagine this happening. I feel sorry for the families that are left to grieve with the loss. As for the “mothers” I feel sorry that somewhere in their 18 yrs they didn’t have an example of how to parent, or if they did they were too selfish and immature to care for their children. As a mother I have and will continue to make sacrifices for my children, that is what parents do! I can’t even begin to imagine what those three babies were thinking in their last moments of life…the one person who you should trust and count on left them to die. Rest in peace babies, you all are with someone who will never leave you or forsake you.

  14. Terry on November 5th, 2011 12:15 am

    I agree the mothers might be in agony right now knowing what their neglect and ignorance did, but being a non-Christian, I can say without regret that I have no pity for them at all. I DO, on the other hand, feel extremely sorry for the rest of the family who lost grandchildren, nieces, cousins, etc; but the parents should be beaten mercilessly and sterilized so they no longer have the opportunity to do this again. It is a horrible tragedy and I grieve for everyone involved EXCEPT the parents. You sleep in the bed you make; and you two have made one nasty bed. I hope the mothers feel deep, sincere sorrow for their neglect and see their precious babies’ faces in every dream and every waking moment for the rest of their miserable lives. Those children were innocent and are in a better place; be it Heaven or just anywhere but with their useless parents.

  15. Crystal on November 4th, 2011 9:59 pm

    this story made me cry when i first read about this tragic… Who in their right mind can leave their babies at home unattended. i am 19 and i have a 1 1/2 old son. there is absultly no way i would ever leave him home alone. this is just some self-hearted mothers that did not care nothing about their children. If they loved these babies they would not be with our holy father right now, they would be in the arms of their parents. understanding, yes, it is partly the mothers fault for the children being alone, but also where were their fathers? i did not see in this article where they were mention at all…. I fell very sorry for the their family, having to go through this horrible tragity. May God be with you. however as for the parents i feel no remorse. You will get what you desire….

  16. Tonya Montgomery on November 4th, 2011 8:51 pm

    You guys need to lay off my brother. You want to point him out because he is one of few who seem to have a heart. Please some of you same people on here typing hiding your names because you might be guilty of the same thing, maybe worse you just haven’t been caught. And ain’t none of you saints or nothing close to being one, but love to talk about what God is gonna do. Quoting things that you heard somebody say. Read your bible and pray before you spread ignorance. How many of you are without sin??????? Yes it was a tradgedy, I hate the kids had to suffer like that, but it was a Accident. Yes it could have been prevented. But its too late for should’ve, could’ve, would’ve. Now is a time to pray for the other family members, and be there for them, if you really are so concerned. And stop being so quick to judge other, and look at your own situations. And yes I am a mother, but I will not sit here and say what I will or won’t do because truth is I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have my support system, and positive role models.

  17. cygie on November 4th, 2011 5:23 pm

    “Too Many Judges” states Just because someone makes a mistake doesnt mean that they don’t care.
    How true. It’s a bad decision that cost lives. The jail is full of folks who made bad choices. I go and do jail ministry every Monday night so i have seen the faces and heard the stories. And you know what? God forgives ALL of them. And He will forgive these two girls as well.
    Now…. If y’all knew this was happening, what did you do? Did you offer them food? Prayer? a warm coat, or clothes for the babies? Did you gather canned goods and drop them off? Jesus clearly stated that whatever we do to the LEAST of these, His children, we have done to Him. So, did you leave Jesus to starve? Or freeze? Did you cross to the other side of the road when He passed? Did you run your mouth and gossip, but not lift a finger? A pharisee is a whitewashed tomb with bones on the inside. What are you?

  18. Beegee on November 4th, 2011 4:34 pm

    Terry Montgomery…..where was the compassion of mothers toward their babies?????? It is tragic,and a very sad way to learn a lesson…..and might I add,some mothers and fathers are so very selfish that their wants and desires must come first in their lives ahead of their children who are in constant need of compassion and a caring and watchful eye!!!!! The babies are the focus here!!!

  19. Beegee on November 4th, 2011 4:23 pm

    To Cygie…..EVERYBODY will stand before GOD and give an account of ALL we’ve done…good or bad,right or wrong decisions……you will never be able to avoid this!!!!! It is coming!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  20. Too Many Judges on November 4th, 2011 3:24 pm

    I agree and disagree with each and everyone of you. But its so easy to say what you would and wont do because you are not the ones in the hott seat. Im a mother myself and I have done some stupid things, it just didnt end like this and its a mothers on here that have done some irresponsible things as far as your kids are concerned, you were just lucky. So dont sit here and say all these shoulda, coulda, woulda , cause some of you live in the same communities as young ladies similar to these and see neglect everyday, but want do nothing to help, are quick to say ” its not my business” but as soon as something happen you have so much to say. And for the black people in Atmore, half you all dont do nothing but sit around and wait on something to happen so that you can have something to talk about. So of you talking are probably in the same situations these girls. So I ask Who Are You to Judge. Just because someone makes a mistake doesnt mean that they don’t care. And then for these so called Christians on here, What God are you serving? Because the God that I serve is a Just, Forgiving God! Believe that…. And why yall are on her talking about what should be done to the mothers are yall making any donations to help with the burial of these kids probably not.

  21. Christopher on November 4th, 2011 3:04 pm

    I cannot understand why ANYONE would leave their SMALL CHILDREN alone! These “mothers”, and it makes me sick to even call them that, were probably gone down the street smoking crack or mating with some jail bound idiot. Meanwhile their babies were at home alone with no way to defend or save themselves if something happened. It’s the first of the month so they had their welfare checks to buy drugs and everything else they need except for what thee checks were intended for. It is PAST time that us as taxpayers put our foot down to this waste and that’s what it is. Girls today know if they get pregnant the government will pay their way and they don’t have to do anything but cash a check like they won the lottery or something. Sure they have feelings and are devistated at what happened and will have to live with that forever, but they should be charged with MURDER and nothing less. Today in America our jails and prisons are so overcrowded that depending on your crime you won’t even have to serve a day. It’s time we start sending a message to the dirty underside of our society that we will not take it anymore. If you are convicted of murder or some other terrible crime you should be taken right then, not six or seven years later, to a tree and hung. Criminals have it too easy, three meals a day, and cable television. Now is the time, before it is too late, if we have not already past that point.

  22. TM on November 4th, 2011 12:31 pm


  23. A Great Mom on November 4th, 2011 12:07 pm

    This is a very sad tragedy for all that’s involved, but my heart goes out to Betty cause she really tried to help those girls. For the ones that’s pretending to care now, stop doing just that pretending cause the circumstances probably would have been different if you hadn’t given up on the mothers. I know our children get hardheaded but we are still their parents and we have to be just that parents, but sometime with tough love. Thank God for Jesus we now know these babies are in the arms of our saviour.

  24. DJC on November 4th, 2011 9:01 am

    God Bless the Children.

    “Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.”

    Proverbs 17: 27-28

  25. George on November 4th, 2011 8:52 am

    NO MERCY! Mad a heck and I will stay that way about this till these girls get what
    our laws will give them. If they were babies when they had them then they sure are
    not babies now. They were old enough to love and protect their children and they
    were to interested in some party, man or drug.

    Were they on welfare one asked, which is a legitimate question when they pay
    them now days to have babies and bunch up in a home of someone and bleed
    the tax payers and run the streets and do drugs As hard working people out
    in the public we see it way to often.

    My heart breaks for children brought into this world by children who have them
    to milk the system. They have no hope, no chance, nothing to look forward
    to but what the system has taught them.

    I say to all young people your asset is not your sex it is your mind. Get a good
    education and jail will not end up being your home and death will not be your
    release from a cruel world.

    Sorry that is my opinion.

  26. River Rat on November 4th, 2011 8:44 am

    The focus of fire seems to be on the oven/stove. Makes me wonder if the 4 year old was trying to cook something to eat! It was not cold at 8:00 on Wednesday night. Who knows how long the two girls (definitely not mothers) had been down the road hanging/partying with their homeboys! They need to be torched! So sad and tragic.

  27. Nichole on November 4th, 2011 8:03 am

    well well well this is extremely tragic but i agree with everyone else that believes they should be charged with the death of their children…i had my kids young to and i would never leave my children unattended i dont care whats going on down the road….those babies suffered in the last minutes of their lives and i think their mothers should suffer behind bars since it is the only thing that can be legally done cuz i personally think they should have their lives ended just like their babies lives ended because them poor little innocent children didnt deserve to die like that…..i feel for the rest of the family (grandparents and etc.) but I DONT FEEL FOR THE MOTHERS B/C THEY ARE AT FAULT FOR THE DEATHS OF THOSE CHILDREN

  28. Of the Older Set on November 4th, 2011 3:55 am

    The twins are 18?? and one had a 4 year old and a 3 year old?? At least the other twin waited til she was 16……. No wonder this happened. Just because a female can have a child at 14 doesn’t mean she’s knows how to be a mother. So many young girls, unhappy at home, think if they can only be on their own and have their own ‘live’ baby doll to play with and need them, they will be ever so happy. And like a doll they think they can leave it alone whenever they want to “go out’ and play themselves.

    Wonder if these two ‘mothers’ had a job or was the government supporting them…..? Those 2 ‘mothers’ should have been looking forward to high school football games and proms – and now look at what they are looking forward to. Hopefully they will have a long time ‘inside’ to think about it.

    Can’t this be a murder 1 case?

  29. fmg on November 4th, 2011 1:21 am

    they will not be able to use the excuse of not having anyone to care for their children, these 2 mothers were twins and have been working together their whole life, they could have taken turns watching their children so they could go out for any reason, whether legitimate or not, lock them up please.

  30. just my words on November 3rd, 2011 11:21 pm

    There isn’t a good enough reason for these so called mothers to leave their babies alone, they need to be held and charged no matter what the fire marshalls out come. Jail is to good for them they need to be put into an inferno, These ladies needs to be fixed so they can not have any more children since they were too sorry to take care of the ones they let die and yes they killed them, if the witches had been home the out come may have been different and then it may not have but at less they would have been there to try. God may have mercy on them but I don’t, I am sorry for the grandparents and other family members that lost these babies, but I hope the ladies will fry for this.

  31. cygie on November 3rd, 2011 10:04 pm

    I pray that all those who have “no compassion” for these two girls, never have to stand before God and face His judgement. Obviously y’all must be perfect. Let me know what church you regularly attend, so I can go and be around you perfect people. Jesus died for all our sins, including these two girls. He never withheld his mercy from us. Make sure before you talk to God that you acknowledge your own shortcomings, and get that BEAM out of your eye!

  32. Why? on November 3rd, 2011 8:54 pm

    I’ll never understand why this kind of thing has to happen. I can’t imagine the pain these girls are dealing with right now. These precious, innocent, babies are in the arms of Jesus now and where obviously saved from a life of neglect. I’m sure this wasn’t the first time they were left all alone. My prayers go out to Mr. Coley.

  33. terrible tragedy on November 3rd, 2011 7:54 pm

    These young mothers did make the absolute worst decision of their lives leaving these children at home alone and I am sure it will teach them a lesson that would be devastating to anyone. This is a trajedy for all of us, but I think there is a lack of wisdom being shown in the hateful comments on here. Even the lowest of low would have a horrible time coping after being responsible for the death of their own. I feel sorry for everyone involved.

  34. so on November 3rd, 2011 5:57 pm

    terry montgomery, i can have no compassion for these girls who left these babies home alone. DHR has been involved. I dont care what the age they were when they chose to lay down with a man….and did so yet again. It is NO EXCUSE at all. SHAME ON THEM AND SHAME ON THEIR PARENTS. There is NEVER EVER a good enough reason to leave little kids home alone. If its so dang important to leave, then you TAKE THEM WITH YOU. STOP WITH THE DANG EXCUSES!!!!

  35. JT on November 3rd, 2011 5:48 pm

    I absolutely do not have compassion for the mothers if they left these babies in the home alone. I just do not understand people.

  36. Melissa Miller on November 3rd, 2011 5:48 pm

    Terry Montgomery how dare you want people to show compassion to these stupid moms, when you find out you are pregnant you except everything about bringing a baby into this world and your days of having fun goes out the window because children come. I hope and pray these so called mothers are sent to the chair or have a very slow death.

  37. MAD AS HELL! on November 3rd, 2011 4:37 pm

    WHAT WOULD JESUS DO??????? He would not have left his children at home alone at such a young age. this is ridiculous and they should be charged to the fullest extent. NO EXCUSE for such a tragic event! This is something that could have been prevented! Lets think about those poor babies having to suffer through all of that in their last minutes of life!

  38. terry montgomery on November 3rd, 2011 4:14 pm

    peoples where is your compession for these very,very young ladies. theses young girls just lost someone very dear to them. babies that they birth into this world. these young ladies r going to go through something. let s show these young ladies so compassion right now. we r chritians right. just ask your self what will jesus do.

  39. poor babies on November 3rd, 2011 4:12 pm

    This is a good example why it should not be optional to be on birth control at that age!!!! Parents do not know what they are doing all the time and they have babies they do not know how to take care of!!!! You never leave your children with the stove on and go three or four blocks away!!! No matter what they found out started the fire the mother’s still should be charged for child neglect!!!!!! Them babies had to suffer so bad in the last little bit of their small lives!!! I am praying the family that they find peace in what happen especially the grandfather!!!!

  40. brewtonchic on November 3rd, 2011 3:25 pm

    This is so tragic for three young children who did not deserve this. I just can’t imagine what they went through the last hour of their lives.

  41. Concerned citizden on November 3rd, 2011 3:00 pm

    please keep us updated on this

  42. Terri Sanders on November 3rd, 2011 2:51 pm

    So you have a 14 year old give birth,then a year later give birth again.Babies raising babies.How sad.It is not rocket science to know not to leave babies unattended.It is awful these girls had to learn it the hard way.

  43. 429SCJ on November 3rd, 2011 2:43 pm

    I have yet to hear the nature of the event, that called these mothers away from their children. What was going on down the street that was so important, that it could make them just walk away, and leave them alone?

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