Three suspects have been arrested and charged with the death of a toddler who died as a result of a fire in Merryville.
An 8-year-old boy and 22-month-old toddler played unsupervised, around 8 a.m. on Tues. Oct. 3, in a Merryville home.
Meanwhile three adults, Katherine St. Romain, 29, Sandra Sibley, 53, and Wayne Hammond, 30, were in a bedroom, where they admitted to having smoked crack cocaine and synthetic marijuana, said State Fire Marshal's Office Chief Deputy Brant Thompson.
At some point, the 8-year-old used a lighter to set fire to a blanket under which the toddler had been playing.
“The accused in this case admitted that they heard the toddler screaming for three to five minutes before anyone went to explore what might be the problem,” said Thompson. “The 8-year old, in the meantime, sought help from a neighbor.”
The neighbor broke a window and used a garden hose to extinguish the fire and rescue the small toddler, Ja'Ceion St. Romain. He sustained second- and third-degree burns over his entire body.
He was taken to Beauregard Memorial Hospital then transferred to University Health Shreveport where he "hung on" for a week before succumbing to his injuries on Tues. Oct. 10, said Thompson.
A warrant was issued on the day the child died, and all three adults were in custody by the 11th.
The warrant compelled the suspects to provide samples for drug tests, of which results are pending.
Officials located drugs within the room where the adults had been at the time of the incident.
All three adults are facing charges of negligent homicide, second-degree cruelty to juveniles, and illegal possession of both Schedule I and II Controlled Dangerous Substances (CDS).
St. Romain is also facing two counts of improper supervision of a minor by a parent.
Bond has been set for each adult at $1,515,000.
The Beauregard Parish Sheriff’s Office, Merryville Police Department, and Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office assisted the Louisiana State Fire Marshal’s Office throughout the process.
St. Romain has four or five children who have since been taken into foster care. “It is so very tragic, but the good news is that all of the remaining kids have been removed from her home and are in foster care,” said Thompson. “They will have an opportunity to succeed in life. It was apparent to us that these kids were in danger.”