Police: Kids Doused With Accelerant, Set On Fire

Joseph's 16-Month-Old Daughter Described As 'Charred'

A woman arrested on suspicion of killing her baby daughter in a fire doused her five children with accelerant before setting them on fire, according to an arrest affidavit released Wednesday.

Maria Darlene Joseph, 25, is being held in the El Paso County jail without bail in connection with the Monday night incident in Colorado Springs. She is being held for investigation of first-degree murder.

According to investigators, Joseph slit her own wrists and throat in an apparent suicide attempt. She was running away from the fire by climbing over fences when she was apprehended, officers said. Her wounds were described as "superficial."

Police received a 911 call from the home at 10:01 p.m. Monday from an unknown female. Emergency dispatchers heard from a child who was screaming that his skin was on fire. The child told the dispatcher that "oil" was on fire, everyone inside the house was hurt and a 10-year-old boy was dead. Dispatchers also heard a child asking: "Why did you kill him?" during the 911 phone call.

Ashia Joseph, 16 months old, died in the home she shared with her four siblings. An autopsy found she died from smoke inhalation and severe burns. Her body was described as "charred" by investigators.

The other children in the home, Dontrell Gardner, 9, Domenic Gardner, 8, Supreme Joseph, 5, and Amarjahan Joseph, 3, were severely burned in the flash fire and were undergoing treatment for life-threatening injuries at The Children's Hospital in Aurora. The two children who were most severely burned have been airlifted to a burn center in Texas.

Police said the Supreme Joseph had a "cut type" injury to his throat, possibly indicating someone tried to slit his throat.

Maria Joseph, who also goes by the Maria Darlene Gardner, was in court Wednesday and was told she was being held without bond in the case. Her husband, Simeon Joseph Jr., committed suicide in the same house last October. He was the father of three of the youngest children. After his death, Joseph was left to raise her five children on her own.

A note on his grave site reads: "Simeon, we love you very much and we all miss you. Please wait for us. We will be together again. Love always and forever, your wifey and kids. Family Roo."

The police investigation into the incident was continuing Wednesday and additional charges of attempted murder and arson were likely.

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