Cops: Mother admitted to setting fire to East Point home to conceal girl’s death

Woman told investigators the child was already dead

The mother of a 4-year-old girl whose body was found in the rubble of a burned-down East Point apartment told investigators her child was already dead and that she set the fire to conceal it, city officials said Monday.

Around 3 p.m. Wednesday, firefighters were sent to an apartment complex along Washington Road, where they were met with heavy smoke coming from one of the buildings and evacuations already underway, city spokeswoman Renita Shelton said. Crews attacked the fire aggressively, and once it was extinguished, they found the deceased child in a bedroom of an upstairs apartment.

The child’s twin sister also was injured in the blaze but was already outside when firefighters arrived. She sustained burns to her hands, arms and portions of her face. She was taken to a hospital and is staying with her grandmother, authorities said. An update on her condition was not provided Monday.

At the time, the girls’ mother, 27-year-old Nicole Ashley Jackson, was thought to have been a victim of the fire but was unaccounted for. After an extensive search of what was left of the apartment, a lookout bulletin for Jackson was sent to area law enforcement. She was located Friday along Fulton Industrial Boulevard and arrested.

Credit: Fulton County Sheriff's Office

Credit: Fulton County Sheriff's Office

Investigators already suspected foul play due to how fast the blaze spread, fire Chief Corey Thornton said. That was confirmed when several spots of possible accelerant were found by investigative dogs brought in by the state fire marshal.

During an interview at the police department, Jackson confessed to starting the fire in order to hide the death of one of her twins, police Chief Shawn Buchanan said. He did not disclose any information about her alleged motivation or confirm if it was true that the child died before the fire started rather than as a result of it.

ExploreMother of child killed in East Point apartment fire arrested, charged with murder

Jackson was taken to the Fulton County jail and is being held without bond. The prosecution plans to fight any attempt by the defense to set a bond, Deputy District Attorney Lauren McAuley said.

Jackson faces charges of malice murder, felony murder, criminal attempt to commit murder and two counts of first-degree cruelty to children. Additional charges are forthcoming as the investigation moves on, McAuley said.

“There is still an incredible amount of work that needs to be done, but we will follow up and do whatever is needed to ensure justice for both children,” she said.

Credit: GoFundMe

Credit: GoFundMe

Shelton noted that the case has gained widespread attention and has greatly impacted city officials, especially those who found the child’s body, “because at the end of the day, when we go home and we take off our uniforms, we morph back into a sea of humanity, and we are also seeking (answers),” she said.

Thornton said grief counselors will be available to speak with affected fire personnel.

“It has weighed heavily among many, not only those who discovered the deceased but everyone because we are all connected,” he said.