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Parents Charged With Setting Fire

December 11, 1997

WESTON, W.Va. (AP) _ Three parents were charged Wednesday night with setting a fire that killed their five children as it quickly swept through the home.

All three were arraigned on charges of first-degree arson, which carries a penalty of two to 20 years in prison, said Lewis County Magistrate Dan Moody. More charges were possible, police said.

Assistant Fire Marshal Greg Greer declined to comment on whether the three suspects intended to kill the children.

Five children from two families died in the Nov. 21 fire in Weston, a small town 100 miles north of Charleston.

Officials said new evidence led to the charges against Ricky Brown, stepfather of three children who died in the fire, and his wife, Barbara Brown, mother of the children, aged 8, 9 and 10. Jeanette Ables, mother of children age 3 and 5, also was charged. Two other adults who escaped from the home were not charged.

Brown had told investigators the fire was started by one of the children playing with either matches or a lighter.

Neighbors and firefighters commented on how fast the fire spread, and tests confirmed an accelerant was used, said Sgt. Richard Bennett of the Lewis County Sheriff’s Department.

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