Sometime in the wee hours of Sunday morning - around 3 a.m. to be more specific - a 27-year-old Illinois man apparently poured gasoline on the front of his cousin's house and set the building on fire. Police said the arson stemmed from a dispute with the homeowners - his cousin - over a drug-
related arrest of another family member.
Inside were five children ranging in age from five months to 10 years. When firefighters arrived, all five children were dead. A firefighter and three others were also injured in the early-morning blaze.
Police arrested the suspect and charged him with murder.
About an hour before the fire - or about 2 a.m. - the suspect and his cousin got into an altercation at a casino arguing about the drug sentencing for another family member. That fight apparently prompted the suspect to set the house on fire.
OK, so what have we learned? We know that a dispute led a man to torch his cousin's house and kill her five children. We know the suspect has been arrested and charged with murder.
Is there anything else we have learned?
Is anyone even remotely curious why the parents of the children were at a casino at 2 in the morning and not at home with five children all under the age of 10? The suspect who set the fire may well be guilty but two parents who abandoned their children at that time of night also share in the blame.
A family member tried to diffuse what is surely to be an important point in this case. The family member said, "I know people will be making something out of it because she wasn't home with her kids. But she is a good mom. She doesn't drink hardly at all and she loves those kids."
Parenting is much more than simply loving your children. Don't misunderstand. Love is essential. But responsibility is an equally important ingredient to parenting. This mother obviously abandoned those responsibilities and she shares in the blame for the death of these five children.
I have no feeling whatsoever for the evil thug who started this fire. But I have very little sympathy for the mother who felt it acceptable to go to the casino instead of staying with her five small children.
We need to remember these children. But we also need to remember who killed them and who put them in a position to suffer this terrible fate.