Sabrina Dunigan East St Louis Illinois mother charged in the deaths of her five children killed in a house fire after leaving them alone to pick up her fiancee.
An Illinois mother whose five children died in an East St Louis apartment fire over the summer has been charged with their deaths. The children”s deaths occurred on the same day as their mother’s birthday.
Sabrina M. Dunigan was charged on Wednesday in St. Clair County with five counts of endangering the life or health of a child, a felony charge in the deaths of her five children in an apartment fire in August.
Online court records did not indicate whether the mother had been arrested or booked into the St. Clair County jail with bond set at $75,000.
The woman’s father, Greg Dunigan, told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch he can’t believe the authorities would charge her after everything she lost.
‘Why are they trying to do this to her?’ Greg Dunigan said. ‘She done lost all she can lose already. Why they want to take the rest away, meaning herself? She don’t have nothing left.’
Mother leaves home to pick up fiancee as children slept inside
Greg Dunigan along with his wife, Vanicia Mosley, lived with Sabrina, a single mother and her five children at the residence. Greg Dunigan said he and his wife lived in one partitioned area of the home while Sabrina and her children lived in another partitioned area.
At the time of the fire, which investigators say broke out circa 3am, Friday morning, Greg and his wife who were asleep managed to escape the fire after jumping from the rear of a second unit floor window.
‘The fire was already too bad in the part where the children slept’ for Greg and Vanicia to attempt a rescue of the siblings, said Vanicia’s sister, Shontice Mosley, according to the St Louis Dispatch.
According to reports, Dunigan, drove to pick up her fiancee from work early in the morning on Aug. 6 – the same day the mother was supposed to be celebrating her birthday. When she returned home, the apartment was on fire and her five children were still inside. She went into the fiery apartment to try to save her children but failed.
Two of her children were found inside a bedroom. The three other children were found on the kitchen floor. Her relatives identified the children as 9-year-old Deontae, 8-year-old twins, Neveah and Heaven, 4-year-old Jabari, and 2-year-old Loy’el.
Four of the children died at the scene and one died at a hospital.
It remained unclear at what time the mother left the family home to pick up her boyfriend, and for how long the children were left alone.
Could the deaths of five children have been averted?
Dunigan and her father said they suspect it was an electrical fire that destroyed the apartment that lacked smoke detectors. However, the landlord — who is an ex-police officer — said smoke detectors are located at all of his properties, according to the Post-Dispatch.
Charging documents accused the mother of leaving her five children unattended and ‘knowingly caused or permitted a child to be placed in circumstances that endangered the child’s life or health.’
Dunigan may face up to 10 years in prison if convicted and if the judge rules it as a misdemeanor unless it is a second offense as per Illinois state law.
St. Clair County State’s Attorney’s Office spokesperson Christopher G. Allen told the Post-Dispatch that no reports about the fire’s cause will be publicized until the case is prosecuted.
KSDK reported that Sabrina Dunigan and her five children were previously displaced by a fire in April 2019 — which, at the time, she believed was started by her ex-boyfriend. The outcome of that case is not immediately known.