Children removed from home after baby burned to death

By Courtney Gilmore - Anchor/Reporter , Cathy Hernandez - Reporter

HOUSTON - Three siblings of a 19-month-old girl who was burned to death inside a northeast Houston apartment on Monday will be placed in foster care.

Case workers from Child Protective Services filed an emergency hearing to take custody of the three children. According to CPS, there have been previous reports made concerning the mother.

According to homicide detectives from the Houston Police Department, the mother was at work and left her three children with her boyfriend at the Angel Ridge Apartments off the 8600 block of Sterlingshire Street.

The children -- a 5-year-old, two 3-year-olds and a 19-month-old girl -- were home alone when they started to play with the oven. Emergency crews arrived after midnight, but there was nothing they could do to save the baby, J'zyra Thompson.

"Upon their arrival they found a deceased 1-year-old," HPD homicide detective Ronda Pemberton said. "We found the baby next to the oven. It appears to be accidental."

On Wednesday, authorities focused on her three siblings who were a 5-year-old girl, 3-year-old girl and 3-year-old boy.

"The court found that there was an immediate danger to those three children and granted us emergency custody," said County Attorney Amy Strickland.

"Both of them had left the children home alone. What was reported was that they had left to get a pizza. The children were left at home for an extended amount of time and that's when obviously the child somehow managed to be inside an oven," said Estella Olguin with CPS.

"She was a sweet baby," said Gina Dennis, the child's grandmother. "This is unexplainable. I have no words."

CPS told the judge the 5-year-old girl claims to have been sleeping when it happened. The case worker also said one of the 3-year-old children took responsibility for putting the baby in the oven.

"We're still going to be working with the children. Part of that is going to be counseling to see if we can help them deal with those memories and what happened," said Strickland.

The children's attorney said the 5-year-old was in one home and the other two children were in another home.

Police questioned the mother and her boyfriend. It's unclear if they'll face charges.

The next hearing was set for Dec. 2.

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