Families of 6 people killed in house fire: 'Pray for us'

Monday, September 1, 2014
EMBED <>More Videos

Six people, including two children, died in an early morning fire in Sampson County on Saturday.

GARLAND, N.C. (WTVD) -- Six people, including two children, died in an early morning fire in Sampson County on Saturday.

Lizzie Murphy would talk to her sister, Laura Ann Newkirk, every day, no questions asked.

"We'd talk about The Lord. That's what we'd do," Murphy said matter-of-factly.

But on Monday morning, she stared at their childhood home along Gibbs Road in Garland, rocking in a chair that sits on the neighbors' front porch. There is no call to Laura Ann today.

"For a split moment you forget," she cried. "And you almost got to call her. That's the worst thing."

Newkirk, 63, was one of six people who died in an early morning house fire Saturday. She'd lived on the 500 block of Gibbs Road her whole life, managing through arthritis. Her longtime boyfriend, 62-year-old James Wilson, lived there with her, as well as her 33-year-old son, Johnny Kent Newkirk. A couple of years ago his girlfriend, Anita "Nita" Robinson moved in with her 9- and 10-year-old children, Tashiya Robinson and Andre Smith.

None of them escaped the smoke and flames that enveloped the home just after midnight Saturday. No one knows what started the fire, and they realize that with no survivors, there's a chance they'll never know.

Monday, a memorial lined the length of crimes scene tape draped around Newkirk's property. A Disney princess balloon, a baby doll, a football and a teddy bear are eerie solemn reminders of the youngest victims and their innocence.

"They were fun kids, man. Lovable kids," said their aunt, Sabrina Sheridan.

Sheridan looked forward to a visit from the kids and her sister, Robinson. They loved eating out, and Robinson had just sent pictures of the first day of school when Tashiya celebrated her ninth birthday, and Andre wore a favorite shirt.

"Dre got the shirt talking about 'Go Hard or Go Home,'" laughed Sheridan. "Lord, we just didn't know he was really going home to be with The Lord this week."

Sheridan said her sister had planned to bring the kids home to White Oak in Bladen County on Saturday.

"But she had a flat tire, and she didn't get a chance to bring them up Saturday," Sheridan said shaking her head. "But The Lord makes no mistakes. No mistakes."

Regina Williams had spoken to her son, James Wilson, on Thursday.

"He said 'Mom, I'll be there on the 10th.' He said 'I'll make sure I'll be there the 10th,' but he never made it," she said crying.

"I just thank God for our faith in God to get us through," said Veronica Murphy, Laura Ann Newkirk's niece. "Because without that, we would not be able to make it."

The families spent most of Monday in the beginning stages of planning funerals. Another tribute to Tashiya and Andre is expected this week at their schools, Union Elementary and Union Intermediate.

On Tuesday, Newkirk's family said they planned to set up a memorial fund at a local bank. Everyone praised the community support that's been lifting them up since Saturday's tragedy.

"Just continue to pray for us," said Lizzie Murphy.

Report a Typo

Related Topics