- Ellen Eldridge The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Jameel Penn says he learned his boys were in trouble when their mother called him via video chat.
Lamora Williams panned around the room, and Penn saw his sons on the floor.
“After I seen what I seen, you know I called the police,” Penn told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Sunday.
But Lamora Williams’ first call wasn’t to Penn.
Longtime friend Neesa Smith told the AJC that Williams called her first Friday night.
“I asked her what was wrong and she said, ‘I can’t do it no more,’” Smith said.
The friend said that Williams told her the boys were dead. “I said, ‘Call the police Mora. Just call the police,” Smith said.
Williams was arrested Saturday and charged with murder after her two young children, ages 1 and 2, were found dead inside their southwest Atlanta home.
The two boys had “received burn marks on their bodies at some point,” according to Atlanta police. Investigators hauled an oven away from William’s Oakland City West End apartment on Howell Place.
Williams, 24, told police she left the children with a caregiver at noon Friday and returned home late in the evening, finding the children dead and the caregiver gone. But police say they do not believe Williams left her children with a caregiver. She has been booked into the Fulton County jail.
“I ain’t got no soul no more,” Penn said during a vigil Saturday, as he held onto his 3-year-old, Jameel. “Ja’karter, Keyante, my world, my everything. I’m lost.”
Friends and family members described Williams as a good-hearted but overwhelmed woman who meant well.
The 24-year-old single mother of four had help from Penn and her 6-year-old daughter’s father’s side of the family, but it wasn’t enough, they said.
Williams quit a job about a month ago because she couldn’t find a sitter for the kids, according to Smith. “Nobody could tell what she was going through,” she said.
Tabitha Hollingsworth said her sister had struggled with mental health issues her whole life.
“I’m 10 years older than (Lamora), and I practically raised her,” Hollingsworth said. “We don’t think, we know she had mental health problems.”
Though Williams’ mother tried to get help for her from school officials when she was young and later through the Division of Family and Children Services, no one diagnosed Williams with a disorder, Hollingsworth said.
“Teachers would say something was wrong, but the state said nothing was wrong,” Hollingsworth said. “This is something the state didn’t recognize. The whole state really failed us.”
Williams didn’t grow up in poverty and wasn’t abused or mistreated in any way that would have led to her hurting her boys, Hollingsworth said.
She said she believes her sister had issues that for years went untreated. “She veered off the wrong way,” Hollingsworth said.
Sunday, Penn said he just wanted to find out where Williams’ daughter, London, was because neither he nor Hollingsworth had seen her in weeks.
“I would like her to be with her brother because that’s all she has left,” Penn said.
Police said the 6-year-old was safe with other family members and had not been at home at the time her youngest brothers died.
Family members said they tried to visit Williams on Sunday, but weren’t allowed to see her.
“She’s the only one who really knows what happened,” Hollingsworth said.
Williams is due in court Monday for a first appearance.
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