EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (KMOV) – A new task force designed to investigate questionable child deaths made its first arrest six months after a 6-year-old boy died in an apartment fire. Police arrested 32-year-old Maria Ware, charging her with two counts of endangering the life of a child.
According to authorities, Ware, was at the neighbor’s house when a fire spread through her home in East St. Louis last January. She rushed back to save her 4-year-old son but was unable to save 6-year-old Kenyartte Griffin Jr.
While the fire at first appeared to be accidental, investigators with the Southern Illinois Child Death Task Force do say Griffin’s mother played a role in his death.
The task force and the fire marshal learned that a lighter in a bedroom sparked the fire, and investigators say that the child had a history of playing with lighters. The mother reportedly knew this information, but still left the child alone for more than an hour.
The task force has worked more than a dozen cases since becoming fully active at the start of 2011. The program began out of concern that some children’s deaths were slipping through the cracks.