Second child dead following weekend apartment fire; suspect in custody

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ST. LOUIS – A 5-year-old girl died Monday, the second child death tied to an apartment fire in south St. Louis.

The blaze started around 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, October 20, in the 1100 block of Kealty Lane in a three-story apartment building located in the Peabody Apartment Complex.

Residents in the area saw smoke coming from the building and attempted to rescue three children in one unit but were unable to do so because of a locked door. The neighbors gained access after breaking down the door but were forced back due to the heavy smoke.

St. Louis firefighters arrived at the scene, went into the apartment, and found a 6-month-old male infant deceased in a bedroom. They found two girls ages, 5 and 4-years-old in a back room.

The fire department said the children had been left at home alone at the time of the fire.

The 5-year-old and 4-year-old were rushed to a local hospital. The 5-year-old girl died Monday afternoon, while the 4-year-old is still listed in critical condition.

There are many questions about what happened, and where were the adults when the fire happened.  Prosecutors said there will be no charges filed Monday. Meanwhile, the family of the children is defending their mother.

Hassan McCloud is the children’s uncle and big brother to their mother, "She had nothing but those kids they was her everything,” said McCloud.

McCloud and his wife Jamie had just left the pediatric intensive care unit Monday to visit the apartment where the fire occurred Sunday on the 3rd floor of a Clinton-Peabody housing unit at 1100 south 14th.

“Despite everything that happened, my sister was an awesome mother to three beautiful children. A lot of people pointing the finger at her and giving their own opinions nobody knows what we go through or what she went through,” said McCloud.

People placed balloons at the scene, some with messages, one says prayers for the family. The McClouds said it’s been a tough life for them and the children’s mother, “Everybody can say whatever they want to say but until you’re in these shoes and you come from where we come from and been through what we’ve been through you can’t say nothing about another person’s situation you never know what a person’s thinking or what a person’s going through,” said Jamie McCloud.

St. Louis police arrested a 23-year-old woman in connection with the apartment fire. She has not been identified because she has not yet been charged.

Meanwhile, the Regional Bomb and Arson Unit and the city’s child abuse unit are heading the investigation.

The circuit attorney’s office said they are waiting for police to do more interviews, gather more evidence, and a report from the Medical Examiner’s report.

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