Neighbors at an apartment complex where several units were destroyed by fire couldn't believe what police say led to a 4-year-old girl's death. East Point police say the child's mother killed her and then set the apartments on fire to conceal what she had done.
No one was more stunned than a neighbor who saved the deceased child's 4-year-old twin sister, and tried to save her too.
Channel 2′s Tom Jones spoke to Ricardo Tolbert outside the burned-out units at the Brookfield Apartments on Washington Road. He described trying to enter through the door but it was locked. Tolbert said he ignored the danger, burst a window, then got inside.
"And the fire was coming out the bedroom rolling like this here," he explained. When he first got inside, he saw the first child. "I noticed the baby's arms on the couch. So I reached in and grabbed her and pulled her out."
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Once she was in safe hands, he went back inside to find her twin sister, and her mother, Nicole Jackson. The fire was too intense. So he had to get out. Firefighters arrived and found the 4-year-old girl dead in a bedroom. Tolbert still beats himself up for not finding her.
"I should have kept trying, kept trying to get that baby out," he said with anguish.
The mother was nowhere to be found that day.
"We found the mother the following day on Fulton Industrial Boulevard," East Point Police Chief Shawn Buchanan said in a news conference.
Police took 27-year-old Nicole Jackson in for questioning.
"She disclosed to us that one of the child was already deceased and she started the fire to conceal a crime," Buchanan revealed.
Jackson now faces charges of malice murder, felony murder, felony child cruelty and criminal attempt to commit murder. "That just broke my heart right there when I got that message. It really tore me up," Tolbert said in response.
He's having a hard time getting what happened out of his mind. He can't believe his neighbor would take her child's life. Jones asked him if he wonders why.
"Yeah. Yeah. I've been wondering why. Why would she do this? She was happy before, the day I seen her," Tolbert replied.
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The surviving twin is with her grandmother. Jackson's mother said this could have been avoided. When Jones reached out to find out how, a family spokesperson said those details will be released soon. The family is asking for help paying for the 4-year-old's funeral.
We also heard from a family who lives next door who lost everything in the fire.
"I lost everything. Everything. Everything. I ain't even got an ink pen," Erica Jones said. She, her disabled son and other relatives are scattered about, living with neighbors or relatives. "I just need a bed and a TV," Jones said.
They've set up a GoFundMe campaign as well.
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