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UPDATE: Mother, co-defendant convicted in fire that killed child

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By: KAKE News Email
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Wichita, Kan. -- UPDATE:

The mother of three children, one of whom died in a house fire last year, has been convicted of endangering her children.

Ruthie Bell entered a plea of no contest to 3 counts of aggravated endangering a child and two counts of aggravated interference with parental custody. Sentencing is scheduled for June 25.

Her co-defendant, Adrian Johnson, pleaded guilty Friday to 3 counts of aggravated endangering a child, 2 counts of possession of a controlled substance and 1 count of possession of controlled substances.

His sentencing date has not been set.

The pair had been accused of crimes related to a fire that killed one of Bell's three children in July of 2013. It happened on the 11th in the 3900 block of east Countryside.

Fire investigators say a 6-year-old child was playing with a lighter that sparked the fire. She suffered critical burns and later died of her injuries.

Bell was not home at the time of the fire, but arrived as firefighters were battling the blaze. A 7-year-old and 4-year-old child were treated at the hospital for minor injuries.



Previous Story: Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The mother of three children injured in a fire earlier this month in the 3900 block of East Countryside has made her first appearance in court.

Ruthie Lee Bell is facing 2 counts of Aggravated Endangering a Child. One of Bell's children, a 6-year-old girl, died from her injures on July 14.

The fire happened July 11. Investigators say the fire was caused by a 6-year-old girl playing with a lighter.

Two other girls were treated for injuries and released from the hospital. Bell's bond has been set at $100,000.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for August 6.


UPDATE: Monday July, 22, 2013

The mother of three children, injured in a fire earlier this month in the 3900 block of east Countryside, has been arrested.

One of those children, a 6-year-old girl, died from her injures last Sunday.

According to jail records, the children's mother, Ruthie Lee Bell, was arrested Monday on three counts of Aggravated Child Endangerment. She is being held on a $75,000 bond.

Investigators with the Exploited and Missing Children's Unit say the case has been handed over to the District Attorney's office.

The fire happened July 11. Investigators say the fire was caused by a 6-year-old girl playing with a lighter.

Two other girls were treated for injuries and released from the hospital.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Fire investigators have released new information in a house fire that left a young girl critically injured with severe burns and smoke inhalation.

The fire started around 7 p.m. at a home in the 3900 block of East Countryside, near Harry and Hillside, in southeast Wichita.

According to Acting Wichita Fire Marshal Stuart Bevis, three girls, ages seven, six and four were home alone when the 6-year-old found a lighter and was lighting plastic trash in the bathroom.

"We have determined the 6-year-old had obtained a lighter and was playing with a lighter and led to the ignition of clothing she was wearing which led to her injuries," he said.

The girl then ran to a nearby bedroom and began taking her clothes off, and caught the room on fire.

Neighbors could hear a smoke alarm going off and went next door to investigate. They could hear the three girls screaming, trying to get out through the locked front door. One neighbor helped free the children from the burning house before fire crews arrived.

"The kids may not have gotten out if it wasn't for these neighbors taking action and getting the door open and getting these three kids out," said Bevis.

The six-year-old remains in critical condition. The other two were treated for minor smoke inhalation and are now in police protective custody.

Investigators are still trying to determine why the children were home alone.

Damage is estimated at $40,000 for the house and $15,000 for contents.

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Three girls were hurt, one critically, in a southeast Wichita house fire.

The fire broke out just after 7 p.m. at a home in the 3900 block of East Countryside Plaza. That's near Harry and Hillside.

Firefighters said children ages 7, 6 and 4, were home alone when the fire started. The six-year-old suffered critical injuries. The younger children were treated for smoke inhalation. The children's mother arrived at the house as the younger girls were being loaded into an ambulance.

The fire started in a bedroom..


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