MEMPHIS, TN – A three-year-old Memphis boy died in a house fire and his two-year-old brother is in critical condition at Le Bonheur. Both boys, say officials, were left home alone for hours on Monday, October 19th, 2009 while their mother, Melanie Dunn, ran errands and went shopping for clothes.
The fire started around 3 p.m. at 1242 Effie near Elliston in South Memphis. Investigators with the Memphis Fire Department says most of the fire damage is in the rear of the house where the bedrooms are located.
Neighbors like Posey Piggie watched in shock as firefighters carried the boys’ tiny, lifeless bodies out of the house.
“One of the little babies,” she says, “looked real, you know, real limp like.”
While fire investigators tried to figure out what started the fire, the boys’ aunt, Marilyn Watson, stunned reporters at the scene by admitting that she and Dunn left the boys at home by themselves, not once, but twice on Monday.
“We had left them this morning,” says Watson, “and I had went to the food stamp office. We got back and everything was all right. I didn’t know they was going to set the house on fire like that.”
And instead of rushing to the hospital to be with the children, Watson’s only interest was getting back inside her neice’s house.
“I really need to get in there,” she says, “to see if my purse burnt up, ’cause I had my food stamp card and everything in there.”
Neighbors Orlandria Rosser and Jasmine Lott are unable to imagine leaving children that young home alone for any reason.
“No, never,” says Lott. “Not two or three, especially. Not even seven.”
“Maybe 13 or 14,” says Rosser, “when they know what to do and what not to do. But not two or three.”
As the heartbreak spread its’ way down Effie Street, it soon gave way to anger that two grown women could be so careless with two precious little lives.
“You know this happened more than once,” says neighbor Shun Evans. “It probably happened more than once and it finally caught up with them.”
“Something should happen to them,” says Rosser, “because there’s no excuse. It’s unacceptable.”
“I just think justice needs to be done,” another neighbor tells myEyewitnessNews.com, “because that was ridiculous.”
Family members say Melanie Dunn was a single mother raising three boys. Investigators have not released the name of her three-year-old who died in the fire. The two-year-old is still hospitalized at Le Bonheur. And Dunn’s five-year-old son was at school when the fire started.