Apr 23, 2012 12:11 AM by Chris Welty
In Rayne an overnight fire killed four children, all under the age of 8 and their mother is under arrest.
Shaqueta McDade is looking at four counts of negligent homicide and police say her children were home alone when the fire started.
"It was so bad. It was like in 15 minutes and the trailer was like to the ground that fast," said neighbor Craig Leopaul.
The fire broke out just before midnight on Edith Street and the kids were just two, five, seven, and eight years old, trapped inside. Investigators say they died alone, their mother not home.
"The mom was at the club and left the babies in there by themselves. She could have come tell us. If I had the children, I would have put them in here cause I'm not going to let them stay there by themselves. They were so young," said Leopaul.
Police could not confirm where the mother was at the time of the fire, but they did arrest her. Twenty-six year old Shaqueta McDade is being held at the Rayne Police Department for the deaths of her four children. Some of the kids were over at neighbor Mary Thomas's house just hours before they died.
"I would have kept the children. I wish I would have known that. I love those children to death, the little girls and boys."
According to the State Fire Marshal's Office, the fire started in the living room, but it was so bad so far investigators can't figure out how it started.
The investigation continued Sunday in a case that's rocked the community. Someone left flowers outside the charred home in memory of the kids, another came by simply to pray. Everyone wondering how and why.
"I'm not going to hear a knock on my door anymore," said Thomas. As for Craig Leopaul, this fire seems like a bad dream, "I keep thinking I'm going to go to bed and it will all be a dream, but no, they are really gone."
KATC spoke off camera Sunday with the mother's family, they declined an interview, saying they too are trying to piece together exactly what happened.
Three of those children in the fire were school age. Superintendent of the Acadia Parish School System, John Bourque tells us that grief counselors will be on hand for students Monday at two schools: Central Rayne Kindergarten and Martin Petitjean Elementary.