Waco police have arrested the grandmother of two children who died in a duplex fire Nov. 2, accusing her of recklessly abandoning the children and taking no action to help them.
Andrea Aleman, 44, was arrested at about 12:30 p.m. Thursday on two counts of second-degree felony reckless injury to a child in the deaths of two children she frequently cared for: Anthony Cole Puente, 4, and Rachel Rose Aleman, 2.
She remained jailed Thursday evening under bonds totaling $30,000.
Aleman and her 11-year-old child escaped the fire at about 1:30 a.m. Nov. 2 at 1218 Webster Ave., which Waco Fire Department officials say was started in the rear kitchen of the small home by an occupant.
The memories of a 2-year-old girl and her protective 4-year-old brother were shared between friends, family and firefighters during funeral services for the siblings killed last week.
According to an arrest warrant affidavit filed Thursday by Waco police Detective Eric Trojanowski, Andrea Aleman changed her story multiple times during the course of the police and fire investigations. She later admitted she went to bed and left the 4-year-old boy “awake and unsupervised in a room where there were multiple fire hazards,” according to the affidavit.
“When she was alerted to a fire in the kitchen by both awakened young children, she did not immediately get up to investigate,” the affidavit states. “Instead, she chose to remain in bed for at least several minutes in a home with no working smoke alarms.
“The defendant stated she eventually got up and saw a fire in the kitchen where affiant has learned there was a pile of clothes, trash and children toys,” according to the affidavit. “Once the defendant left the bedroom, she left both victims behind and did not return to assist them or ensure they got out of the house.”
The affidavit states the victims, who died of smoke inhalation, were of the age that they would have needed assistance getting out of the house.
“Instead, the defendant merely briefly called out from the next room then left herself without ensuring that all the children had fled,” the affidavit states. “According to the surviving child, the defendant was the first person out of the house.”
A 4-year-old boy and a 2-year-old girl died in a house fire overnight, Waco fire Chief Bobby Tatum said.
Aleman told police and fire investigators she left the house without seeing the children leave behind her.
“Once she was outside and realized the children were not with her, the defendant made no effort to get the children out of the house, whether by actually physically getting them out or by beckoning to them at the doorway,” the affidavit states. “She did not ask neighbors for help when they also fled the shared part of the duplex on fire.
“Defendant abandoned her grandchildren in a burning house and took no action to get them help until firefighters walked past her on the corner down from the house,” the affidavit states.
Aleman disregarded her duty to care for the children by placing them in a “substantial and unjustifiable risk which was of such a nature as to be a gross deviation from the standard of care from an ordinary person in likewise circumstances,” the affidavit states.