Kids found wounded in Mass. apartment fire; mom charged
SALEM, Mass. — A mother accused of slashing her children’s throats and setting fire to the family’s apartment had removed the unit’s inside doorknob, sealed vents, covered sprinklers and disabled the smoke alarm, prosecutors said Monday at the woman’s arraignment.
Tanicia Goodwin was ordered held without bail pending an appearance in court next week. A judge will then decide if she’s eligible for bail on two counts of assault with intent to murder, two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and arson.
The 25-year-old Goodwin didn’t enter a plea.
She held her head low and didn’t speak in court other than to answer in the affirmative when the judge asked if she needed a court-appointed lawyer.
Firefighters responding to reports of a fire on the seventh floor of the Salem Heights apartment complex at about 9:15 p.m. Sunday found Goodwin and her 3-year-old daughter, Erica, in a neighbor’s apartment. The girl had a laceration to her neck, and Goodwin was also suffering from what was described in court as a “superficial” wound to her neck.
Goodwin’s 8-year-old son, Jamal, was found inside the family’s apartment with a neck wound so deep his trachea was exposed, Assistant District Attorney Melissa Woodard said. He was also covered in lighter fluid.
Both children were flown to Children’s Hospital Boston in critical condition.
According to the police report, Goodwin went to the police station on her own where she sashed a display case and collapsed on the floor. She was sobbing and holding her head and appeared to have soot on her hands. She asked for a cigarette, but police wouldn’t give her one because she also had lighter fluid on her clothes.
Later, she took off all her clothes in an interview room, according to the report.
Goodwin told police: “I did what I had to do to protect my children,” the prosecutor said, but there was no indication that anyone else was involved.
“I’m not supposed to be here. I’m not supposed to be alive,” Goodwin told police, according to prosecutors.
She said later: “I just want to protect my babies. Mama loves you. You know I love you guys so much. Mama loves you. I wish I were with you right now. I just wanted to protect them. I’m so sorry, Erica, Jamal.”
When she asked a police officer if her children were OK, she was told they were taken to the hospital. She replied, “Thank you, God. Please keep them alive. I love my children. I just wanted to protect them,” according to the report.
There was no indication of drug or alcohol use, Woodard said.
No possible motive was disclosed by either the prosecutor or Goodwin’s lawyer.
This story was written and provided by The Associated Press Wire. (Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)