Carlene Ratcliffe: SC mom, 32, charged with murder TWO YEARS after killing daughter, 6, in house fire
SOUTH CAROLINA, USA: Authorities in South Carolina has filed criminal charges against Carlene Ratcliffe, a 32-year-old mother who allegedly killed her 6-year-old daughter by trapping her inside the house which was intentionally set on fire by her. The woman was arrested on Friday, July 1, by the police on murder and homicide by child abuse charges as well as two counts of first-degree arson according to multiple news sources including the WTOC, WSPA, and WYFF.
The incident took place on November 25, 2020, when Carlene set her house on fire at around 5:40 pm and then left the area while her daughter Caeli was still inside the house. The firefighters reached the spot after getting the news but when they reached there, it was already too late. The house was fully scorched and completely engulfed by the flames that were coming out from the windows and through the main door. Caeli's grandmother, Barbara Newton, was at a grocery store during that time. She returned to her home only to find out her house was set on fire and tried her best to save the life of her granddaughter. She suffered from severe burns while trying to rescue the life of the girl.
According to the officials, Caeli died due to smoke inhalation and extreme suffocation, and Newton was later flown to the Jospeh M Still Burn Center in Augusta, Ga, for treatment. The heat radiating from the house made it difficult for firefighters and officers to enter the home. Two firefighters were also severely injured during the incident as they sustained burns while trying to rescue the girl who was apparently sleeping at that time. One officer suffered a burn to his left hand, and a firefighter suffered a burn to his back and shoulders. They were later treated on scene. Besides, Caeli, her three pets which included two dogs and a kitten also lost their lives. Police reported that the child's mother did this on purpose and fled the scene without reporting it. The authorities, however, still have to find out the possible motive behind it.
Crystal Johnson, Caeli's aunt, organized a fundraising campaign on gofundme at that time to help raise funds for funeral costs, costs of medical bills, and costs of replacing all of their belongings. It is still unclear whether Carlene is in police custody or had been posted for her release. Efforts to reach her by phone were unsuccessful. Information on her lawyer was unavailable. She has yet to enter pleas to the charges against her.