Mother of Kids Killed in Hartsville Fire Charged in Deaths

11:14 AM, Apr 26, 2013   |    comments
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  • Hope Hawkins (Darlington County Detention Center)
  • Hope Hawkins is brought into the Darlington County Detention Center on April 26, 2013. (WBTW-TV)

Hartsville, SC (WLTX) - The mother of the four Hartsville children who died in a fire has been charged with homicide by child abuse.

Darlington County Sheriff Wayne Byrd announced Friday the additional charges against 21-year-old Hope Hawkins.

Deputies arrested Hawkins Thursday night on one charge of unlawful neglect of a child. Hours later, Byrd added three more counts of that charge, and four counts of homicide by child abuse.

On Wednesday, Hawkins's four children, who ranged in age from 10 months to 4 years, died in a fire at their trailer in Hartsville.

At the time of the fire, the mother was not inside the home.  Investigators now say she was not at the home until after first responders had arrived and put out the fire.

Byrd said that the fire started in the kitchen, and the children's bodies were found in a closet in a bedroom on the other side of the home. The coroner determined they all died of smoke inhalation.

Byrd said Hawkins's side of the story has not matched up to what investigators have found so far. However, Byrd said everything points to an accidental cause of the fire, and that the children were not locked in the closet.

Hawkins is scheduled to be in court later in the day.

A candlelight vigil for the children takes place Friday at 8:30 p.m in Hartsville's Centennial Park.  Funerals for the children are set for a week from Thursday.

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