A 43-year-old St. James woman is accused of two felonies in connection with a fire in Maries County on Sunday where a 14-year-old female was found dead, according to the affidavit of probable cause issued by the Maries County Sheriff's Office on Tuesday.
The mother of the 14-year-old female found dead, Tracy M. Ellis, was arrested Tuesday evening on suspicion of one count of first-degree endangering the welfare of a child resulting in death and one count of second-degree murder, the affidavit of arrest states.
On Sunday, a Maries County Sheriff’s deputy was dispatched to a residence on Maries County Road in St. James for a report of a structure fire, the arrest report states, and upon arrival, the deputy along with the Vichy Fire Department and St. James Fire Department made contact with three individuals.
According to the affidavit of arrest, one of the three individuals had contacted emergency services when the individual arrived home to find their residence “ablaze with his handicapped sister identified as still inside the residence.”
The deputy attempted to call out to one of the individuals on the north side of the property and received no response, according to the probable cause. A bookcase and dresser were against the window and “any attempt was fruitless to rescue the (14-year-old) due to the obstruction created from the furniture, heat, and smoke,” the arrest report states.
The St. James Fire Department and Vichy Fire Department personnel were the first to make entry into the residence, according to the probable cause, and later informed the Maries County Sheriff’s Office that a halogen bar had to be used to get to the 14-year-old and the “boards and gate installed on the bed” were removed to retrieve the 14-year-old.
“The (14-year-old) died from the incident,” the Maries County Coroner’s Office announced at 12:25 p.m. on Sunday, March 17, the affidavit for arrest states, and field interviews conducted on scene by Maries County law personnel determined Ellis, “the mother and caretaker of (the 14-year-old) to have left the residence, knowingly leaving (the 14-year-old) unattended for several hours."
The affidavit for arrest issued Tuesday by the Maries County Sheriff’s Office states, Ellis, left for work while her son was out fishing, and the son advised the Maries County deputy that he wasn’t notified of Ellis’s absence. According to the probable cause, the son stated if Ellis would have called him, he would have come home.
“Ellis proceeded to work without seeking care for (her daughter), furthermore (the daughter’s) condition prevents her from being able to take care of herself, none the less escape from a burning residence,” the affidavit for arrest states, and “during a conversation with Ellis, when talking about her daughter’s condition she described (the daughter) could not walk and could not speak."
On Tuesday, March 19, the affidavit of probable cause states that the Maries County Sheriff’s Office and the Missouri Fire Marshal’s Office were present during the (14-year-old's) autopsy, and it was determined "(she) had soot from the fire in her trachea.”
According to the probable cause, the Department of Family Services conducted an investigation into Ellis in 2017 for lack of supervision, and through the Missouri Uniform Law Enforcement System, law enforcement found that Ellis received a traffic fine for failure to secure a person under 16 years of age.
The Maries County Sheriff’s Office said on Wednesday that Ellis’s arraignment is scheduled for Thursday at 9 a.m.