A woman is accused of murder after a fire and alleged stabbing. Deputies said they found seven juveniles at a home in Paulding County, Georgia, on Friday night. Of the five got hurt, two were dead at the scene. They were a 3-year-old and a 9-month-old, officials said. Then a third child–a five year old–died at a hospital. Authorities later announced that a fourth child passed away, but they walked that back, after saying they had a miscommunication with hospital staff. They identified this fourth child as a 9-year-old.
“Major correction, we were informed incorrectly,” Paulding County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Tyler McSwain told Law&Crime in an email. “The 4th child did not pass away but is still in critical condition. There was miscommunication with hospital staff.”
The mother Darlene Nicole Brister, 40, faces two counts of malice murder. Deputies suggested more charges were likely, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“At approximately 9:19pm on June 24th, 2022, Paulding E-911 received a call about a domestic disturbance and house fire at 776 Woodwind Dr., Rockmart, GA 30153,” deputies said in an initial news release. “It was reported that a female who was inside the home was attempting to stab the occupants and that at the time of the call, the home was on fire and the occupants were inside.”
Deputies and firefighter arrived, officials said. Authorities put out the fire.
That leaves only four children alive, with two of them injured. The uninjured children are 14- and 16 -years-old, deputies said. Besides the injured 9-year-old, the other injured child is age 11, officials said.
Authorities did not detail the children’s injuries at length but said that the slain 3-year-old sustained apparent stab wounds.
“Two juveniles were pronounced deceased on scene: a 3 year old with multiple apparent stab wounds and 9 month old,” officials said.
Several neighbors said the family lived at the home for almost five years, but while they saw them often, they did not know them well, according to WSB-TV. They described hearing about ongoing domestic problems at the residence, though they said they did not think it would get this bad.
“She doesn’t talk to anyone,” neighbor Edward Swinger said.
“We would see them but we wouldn’t communicate with them,” neighbor Willie Hayes said.
Locals voiced shock and outrage at what allegedly happened.
“I just don’t know who would do that to their kids,” neighbor Holly Addison said.
“She had to be sick or so selfish and so self-centered that she didn’t care about anything or anyone,” another neighbor Robin Zerby said.
“For that woman to do that is unbelievably selfish,” David Zerby said, according to WAGA. “All she had to do was take the kids to a hospital … drop them off.”
Brister was locked up without bond at Paulding County Detention Center, the sheriff’s office said.
If you have any information about this case, please feel encouraged to contact the Paulding County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Division Tip Line at (770)443-3047 or via the Paulding County Sheriff mobile app.
Update – 4:41 p.m.: Deputies say three–not four children–are dead. A spokesman attributed the announcement about the fourth child to miscommunication with hospital staff.
We’ve adjusted the article.
[Booking photo via Paulding Couinty Sheriff’s Office]
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