While investigating the fire, authorities found that the McCues’ five children were living in “unsanitary and dangerous” conditions. Zoe’s remains were located in a windowless bathroom where investigators also found a makeshift bed in the bathtub, police said.
A separate investigation was opened against William and Carina McCue, Valle said, leading police to discover “improvised camping-style toilets” in the house. The residential toilets were inoperable and the septic tank was either full or not working, Valle said. The kitchen sink had been re-plumbed to direct water from the faucet into a five-gallon bucket on the floor, and none of the showers or bathtubs appeared to be functioning, according to police.
Hours after the fire, which took place on Easter Sunday, Zoe’s 15-year-old brother was found at a church in Rockdale County, where authorities said he confessed to intentionally setting fire to the house. The teenager was taken into custody on murder and other charges.
The three other McCue children were placed into state protective custody, police confirmed in early May. State records obtained by the AJC revealed the McCue family had come under investigation twice before, but charges were never filed against the parents.