DFCS report raises questions about oven-related toddler deaths

Oct 30, 2017
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Lamora Williams was arrested Oct. 14 on charges she killed your her sons, ages 1 and 2, by putting them inside an oven and turning it on.

It was a shocking headline: Mother accused of putting her two young sons in the oven.

But a Division of Family and Children Services report obtained Monday by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution raises doubts on just how Lamora Williams’ sons, ages 1 and 2, died earlier this month.

A warrant for Williams’ arrest stated the 24-year-old mother, who her family said battled mental issues, killed the the two youngest of her four children. It accused her of “placing them in an oven and turning it on.” The boys had burn marks on their bodies.

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But the DFCS report paints a different picture. A caseworker interviewed Williams’ three-year-old son, who was home at the time his brothers’ death. He said that night one of the boys slept on the stove.

He then told the case worker that Williams “called the ambulance and the stove fell on them.”

The warrant alleges Williams put her sons in the oven sometime between midnight Oct. 12 and 11 p.m. Oct. 13, when she called the boys’ father, Jameel Penn.

He said Williams showed him a video in which he could see his sons’ bodies lying on the floor. Penn then called police.

Meanwhile, the Fulton County Medical Examiner has yet to release an official cause of death. Autopsy results typically aren’t withheld for this long, as evidenced in the investigation earlier this month into a the death of a newborn found in the Newton County woods. In that case, a cause of death was made available within days of the baby’s discovery.

Williams was due in court but the preliminary hearing was rescheduled for Nov. 7. She remains in jail on suicide watch, family members told DFCS.

Stuffed animals, balloons and candles in front of the apartment of Lamora Williams and her children. Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Contrary to previously published reports, the state child welfare agency had previous contact with Williams regarding her other children. Her eldest, a 6-year-old daughter, was with a relative the night of her brothers’ death.

But was Williams there? She told a 911 operator she wasn’t to blame for her children’s deaths, saying repeatedly she was at work and had left her three sons with a cousin, who left them unsupervised at her apartment on Howell Place in West End.

“This is not my fault; I just came home from work,” Williams told the operator.

Police say they do not believe Williams left the boys with a caregiver.

The DFCS report accused her of neglect. It also disputes claims by family members that they had gone to the agency seeking help for Williams.

“We don’t think, we know she had mental health problems,” Williams’ sister, Tabitha Hollingsworth told the AJC.

Hollingsworth said their mother, Brenda Williams, tried to get help for her daughter from school officials when she was young and later through DFACS.

“The whole state really failed us,” she said.