Mother, aunt of 2 kids who died in West Englewood fire due in court Monday morning
BY STEFANO ESPOSITO, MITCH DUDEK AND HUNTER CLAUSS Staff Reporters December 23, 2012 8:32PM
Unidentified children believed to have been killed in a West Englewood fire on Saturday, December 22, 2012. | NBC Photo
Updated: January 25, 2013 6:22AM
A mother and aunt of two young children who died in a West Englewood apartment fire over the weekend are due in criminal court Monday.
Tatiana Meakens, 23, the mother, and Britany Meakens, 22, the aunt, are both accused of felony child endangerment, and are expected to appear for a bond hearing at the 26th and California courthouse.
Authorities say the the children were alone in an apartment in the 6400 block of South Paulina early Saturday when a fire erupted.
Two of Tatiana Meakens’ children died: a son, Javaris, 2, and a daughter, Jariyah, 3. Two other relatives — boys ages 7 and 4 — were able to escape the building.
Both women were charged with two felony counts each of endangering a child causing their death and two misdemeanor counts each of endangering the life and health of a child, according to Chicago Police.
A hot plate being used for heat in their first-floor apartment may have accidentally sparked the blaze on one of the chilliest nights this season, authorities said.
Firefighters arrived at 3:25 a.m. to find flames shooting from a side bedroom window on the first floor of the building, where Javaris and Jariyah were trapped.
Both children died of carbon monoxide intoxication and inhalation of smoke and soot, according to the medical examiner’s office.
According to the fire department, no working smoke detectors were found in the apartment.
The two children who survived were taken into custody by state welfare workers.
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services was investigating allegations of neglect against Tatiana Meakens and Britany Meakens, DCFS spokesman Jimmie Whitelow said.
Tameisha Brown, 28, a former neighbor who lives in Gary, Ind., said Tatiana Meakens was a single mom of four kids and a good parent.
Neighbor LaTasha Marsh said Javaris and Jariyah often played with her 5-year-old daughter.
“Where [were] the parents? They said they [were] out but that’s very not like them to not be there. I see them with their kids all the time,” said Marsh, who recalled seeing Tatiana Meakens returning home a few days ago with a bag full of Christmas presents for her kids. “She loved them kids.”