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East St. Louis mother indicted in deaths of 5 children in fire

East St. Louis mother indicted in deaths of 5 children in fire

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ST. CLAIR COUNTY — An East St. Louis woman was indicted Friday in connection with the deaths of her five children in an apartment fire in August.

A grand jury in St. Clair County handed up an indictment of 34-year-old Sabrina Dunigan, accusing her of leaving the children alone in the apartment at 560 North 29th Street before a fire broke out around 2:39 a.m. on Aug. 6. 

Dunigan’s five children, all younger than 10, died in the second-floor apartment fire.

“My office takes seriously its responsibility to seek justice for the irresponsible and criminal acts leading to the avoidable deaths of these five young children," St. Clair County State's Attorney James A. Gomric said in a statement Friday.

Earlier this month, online court documents showed that Gomric had filed child endangerment charges against Dunigan and that grand jury action also was pending. 

The children who died were Loy-el Dunigan, 2; Jabari Johnson, 4; twin 8-year-old girls, Heaven and Neveah “Veah” Dunigan; and Deontae Davis, 9.

St. Clair County Coroner Calvin Dye Sr. said in August four of the children died at the scene. A fifth died at a St. Louis hospital. 

No attorney for Dunigan was listed on court papers.

The fire has been under investigation by the Illinois fire marshal’s office.

In an interview in August, Dunigan said she didn't believe an arsonist lit the blaze.

“No way someone could come upstairs and start a fire,” Dunigan told the Post-Dispatch, adding that the door was locked and only she and her father had keys. 

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