Local News

Mom Charged in Fire That Killed Daughters

Posted February 25, 2008

— Authorities on Monday charged a Sanford woman in the fire that claimed the lives of two of her three daughters earlier this month.

Echo Tonisha Simmons, 24, faces two counts of involuntary manslaughter and one count of misdemeanor child abuse. She could serve almost five years in jail for each count of involuntary manslaughter if convicted.

She was arrested Monday morning and released on $5,000 secured bond. Simmons refused to comment on the charges against her as she left court.

According to reports, Simmons' three girls, all under 7, were alone in the mobile home when the fire started around 11:30 p.m. on Feb. 14 at the Overlook Mobile Home Park at 40 Mallie Drive.

Simmons had left them home alone for a few minutes, Harnett County sheriff's officials said. She was taking her mother to her home, approximately 2 miles away.

Arianna Squires-Simmons, 3, and Kaliyah Simmons, 20 months, died. Their sister, Janaya Squires, 6, tried to save them, according to Robert Davis Jr., who said he witnessed the fire and tried to help.

Davis said he noticed that the mobile home behind his was covered in smoke and flames. He then saw Janaya stumbling out the front door, he said.

Janaya wanted to go back inside to save her two younger sisters, Davis said, so he ran into the burning home to try to save them.

Davis said the fire forced him back before he could reach the two girls.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • pingmanreturns Feb 26, 2008

    Rev RB, you make alot of sense.

  • Adelinthe Feb 26, 2008

    "...but the praying does nothing, too late for that."

    None of us knows that truly. Personally, I believe it's never too late for prayer.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • uncw05 Feb 26, 2008

    Another question to everyone saying she's had punishment: When did feeling remorse become a punishment in the U.S. justice system? I've heard of it helping at parole hearings, but never have I heard a judge say " oh, you wish it hadn't happenedthat's enough, go home" The reason for this is that no one truly knows what is in another's heart, but that person. She could act torn up and not care, or act like she doesn't care, and be torn up, therefore we just don't count it for anything in our justice system, meaning in our justice system she should be tried. Another thing that everyone seems to be ignoring: much more will come out in the trial. Trying her doesn't mean she will go to jail. If she really truly is as innocent as some people are saying here, it will come out in the trial and she will get off. There is a difference between trial and conviction, and when children are involved, there should pretty much always be an investigation/trial. Better safe than sorry.

  • uncw05 Feb 26, 2008

    DataClerk: I stated that in more than one of my earlier post, I know we can't know what is going on in our head, but it is because we don't know if she cares one bit about the fact that 2 daughters have died that we have to act in the interest of keeping something like this from happening to the 3rd daughter. That means pressing charges. It could be that she learned her lesson and is totally sorry, but I would hate to assume that and then see something happen to the remaining daughter.

  • Dr. Dataclerk Feb 26, 2008

    uncw05: Just wanted you to know everyone do not grieve the same way. Many people wants everyone to grieve like they do. I don't cry just because you want me to. You don't have to see a tear to let you know I am grieving. I believe sincerely the mother is grieving in her own way. It is none of you business how she grieves. Lord Help these people.

  • Moabit Feb 26, 2008

    Pray, pray, pray, amen, amen,amen.... Don't you think that all comes a little bit late? She may have needed a little bit more help when all of her kids where still alive. She does not look very upset. She did something so stupid and her mother helped her. So she should be punished and maybe when she gets out she should get all the help she needs, teaching her some common sense, but the praying does nothing, too late for that.

  • Brejasa Feb 26, 2008

    I feel sad for the daughter who witnessed the death of her two siblings, that has to be hard. I am a young mother,23, w/children similar in age-6,3 and 16 months and it mad me cry b/c it mad me think of my kids in a situation like this. Becoming a parent matures some and makes them realize that they have to be the best that they can be for their children. I couldn't imagine doing something so stupid on my behalf and causing my children their lives and not be in Holly Hill somewhere, but people deal w/things different and some people just don't want to be parents. Some people have kids for all the wrong reasons, welfare,to keep a man and when it doesn't work they blame the kid. Its just sad being b/c children are innocent and if people would be adults and protect themselves, unwanted children would not be here and if you do have them then you need to protect and guide them. Its just sad.

  • Adelinthe Feb 26, 2008

    dataclerk - "sww1rb - Rev: Being a so called minister, do you find it hard to forgive?"

    Gracious, not at all! But when one commits a crime, whether they suffer a loss themselves or not, they need to do the time as punishment for that crime.

    Laws were not written so that we could obey some and not others, and while our legal system leaves much to be desired, it is often the only thing that stands between us and complete chaos.

    Do you see?

    SHE BROKE A LAW in neglecting and endangering her children, and that law should be upheld.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • Dayum Sessy Feb 26, 2008

    Wow, she sure looks like she has been grieving the loss of her 2 babies caused by her stupidity.

  • uncw05 Feb 26, 2008

    Dataclerk: I have disagreed with my share of things Rev. RB has said in the past, but do you realize that even if we forgive criminals, there is a purpose to punishments? I see 2 main purposes: 1 is to set an example- unfortunately, some people just can't behave themselves without the threat of jail. 2 is to prevent it from happening again. I'm not saying she's going to leave her kids along in a room with a burning candle again, but a similar level of neglect could happen. To imply that one should forgive and not press on with charging/ punishment would imply that we should have murderers and rapist wandering the street. I'm going to be honest though, I would probably be leaning towards being a little less strict on her if I hadn't seen the picture in the article. I know you can't know her thoughts, but that just isn't a person torn up over killing their own children. If I didn't know who it was, I'd think it was someone rolling their eyes and smirking over a stupid joke.