Mother charged in Christmas Eve death might enter plea
A Craig mother charged with criminally negligent homicide after her son perished in a house fire on Christmas Eve is set to appear before a Moffat County judge next week.
Vanessa Allison Jenkins, 26, was originally arrested Wednesday, April 3 on a charge of child abuse negligently causing death, and was released on bond the next day.
She is set to appear for a plea hearing before Judge Michael O’Hara’s Moffat County Courtroom No. 1 at 2 p.m. Monday, Aug. 26.
The 13-page redacted arrest warrant affidavit from April details the circumstances surrounding the fire, in which Jenkins found herself waking up on the couch to her home ablaze and her child screaming as the room he was in was engulfed in flames.
According to the affidavit, officers with Craig Police Department responded to the 1900 block of Woodland Avenue about 10:30 a.m. Christmas Eve to find smoke and flames billowing from the home and a woman, later identified as Jenkins, “yelling that her child was still inside.”
At least three Craig officers were first on the scene and tried to enter the home, without success.
“After a few feet, we could not continue any farther into the residence due to flames and smoke,” the affidavit reads.
Craig Fire/Rescue began its fire control and rescue efforts, making way to the southeast bedroom, where the child was reportedly last seen. The affidavit states fire crews used water to extinguish the fire and a chainsaw to open a large hole into the room. A body believed to be the child was found between an interior wall and what was believed to be a mattress.
Officers said they made a call to a fire investigator with the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control, who responded and began assisting police in an investigation into the blaze after securing a search warrant for the Jenkins’ residence.
Police said they then assisted the fire investigator in “a layered search,” wherein the team began filling buckets with materials found inside the bedroom and sifting through each, carefully looking for evidence.
As search crews sifted through the burned bedroom, police noticed no signs of an electrical fire, but found “a melted, but intact, BIC style lighter,” which the affidavit reads was found near the child’s body.
Police said an autopsy later showed high concentrations of carbon monoxide in the boy’s blood, suggesting he was alive when the fire started. His death was originally ruled as accidental.
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A Craig woman, who is representing herself in court, faces up to 40 years in prison on two felony charges following the death of her infant daughter.