Authorities in East St. Louis have charged a mother in connection with an August fire incident that killed her five children after she allegedly left them alone in their apartment. According to St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Sabrina M. Dunigan, 34, has been charged with five felony counts of endangering the life or health of a child.
The tragic August 6 incident occurred on Sabrina’s birthday. And the mother had reportedly gone out to pick her boyfriend from work around 3 a.m. when authorities received a report about a fire outbreak in their apartment. The deceased children include 8-year-old twin girls Heaven and Neveah “Veah” Dunigan, Loy-el Dunigan, 2, Jabari Johnson, 4, and 9-year-old Deontae Davis.
In an interview with the news outlet, Sabrina’s father, Greg Dunigan, said he can’t fathom why charges have been brought against his daughter in the wake of the tragic incident. “Why are they trying to do this to her,” Dunigan asked. “She done lost all she can lose already. Why they want to take the rest away, meaning herself? She don’t have nothing left.”
Dunigan and his wife also stayed in the same apartment the incident occurred. And he said he and his wife escaped from the fire by jumping from the second floor of the apartment. He also added his daughter had left the deceased children in their care, but reiterated, “It just so happened we fell asleep.”
Sabrina said she sustained burns when she tried rescuing her children after she got home. She and her father also said they suspect the fire was caused by an electrical problem, and the apartment did not have any smoke detectors. But the apartment’s landlord said all of his properties had smoke detectors.
In charging documents, an investigator with the state fire marshal’s office alleged Sabrina left her children alone in the home and “knowingly caused or permitted a child to be placed in circumstances that endangered the child’s life or health.”
Sabrina faces two to 10 years in prison for each felony count.