A Louisiana woman was charged with negligent homicide after her four unattended children died in a mobile home fire late Saturday night.
Shaqueta McDade, the 26-year-old mother of the deceased children ages 2, 5, 7 and 8, is being held in an Acadia Parish jail, according to Capt. Doug Cain of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety.
Cain told the Associated Press that police interviewed and arrested McDade because “she is suspected of leaving the children unattended.”
The white mobile home, located in the southern Louisiana town of Rayne, erupted in flames just before midnight and was fully engulfed by the time fire fighters arrived. The children were found dead in the scorched remains of the home after the fire was extinguished.
Authorities are still investigating the cause of the fire and the whereabouts of McDade when it erupted.
The Lafayette Daily Advertiser reported that some neighbors had called the police for the children being left unattended in the past, including one incident when the 2-year-old was allegedly walking through the streets alone at night.
Neighbor Melinda Miller told the Daily Advertiser that she called the police on Friday about the children being left alone, but the children were returned to their mother the following day.
“They were too young to be home alone, entirely too young,” Miller said.
Amy Whatley, a local principal at a school where at least one of the children attended, told the Shreveport Times she felt numb from the tragedy when she heard the news this morning.
“I’ve lived in this area for 30 years,” Whatley said. “These children have parents who were students of mine. I have former students on Facebook pouring their hearts out, wondering what they’re going to tell their child.”