On Thanksgiving night 2010, Crystal Lee Coleman had been living in Slater, TX for two weeks. She was celebrating the holiday with her boyfriend and his parents in their trailer home. That night was one of the coldest nights in the Texas year. The forcast for that night said the temperature was in the teens in the Gatesville/Slater area.
Around 8 PM, she took her twin toddler sons (aged 2 years, 11 months, 25 days) outside and put them to bed on an air mattress in a two-roomed storage shed. In the shed was also most of her belongings and all of Trevor and Leland’s belongings. It was very crowded and had no smoke/fire detectors, no fire extinquishers, or no carbon monoxide alarm for use with gas heaters. The two rooms measured 8-by-11 feet and 8-by-8 feet totaling 152 sq ft. Trevor and Leland were in the 8 by 11 room. The door leading outside was in the other room with the 18000 BTU butane heater. The heater was immediately between both doors making it impossible to get out in an emergency. Another note the shed was approximately 85 feet from the trailer home.
18000 BTU heaters (electric or gas) are used to heat a 400 sq ft open space, recommended for outdoor use. Primarily for camping. But they can be used indoors so long as their is proper ventilation. The shed had no ventilation. There were no windows and only the one door out. This particular heater was not for use indoors.
Included on the warning labels for any type of heater:~Do not leave on around small children.~Turn off when leaving a room.~Do not leave on while sleeping.~Keep at least THREE feet from anything that can burn.~Be sure that it is installed with proper attention to ventilation.~Install carbon monoxide alarm in the area of heater.
And on this particular heater the a major red flag warning: “Carbon Monoxide Hazard – This heater produces carbon monoxide, which has no odor. Burning the heater in an enclosed space can kill you. Never use the heater in enclosed spaces such as a tent, a camper, any vehicle or recreational vehicle (RV), enclosed shelter, or any other enclosed areas. Not for use in residential living areas or in non-adequately ventilated enclosed spaces – ALWAYS maintain proper distance from combustibles.”
She put them to bed in the shed around 8 PM and left them IN the shed by themselves after determining they were asleep. The butane heater was on when she left. There are several versions of events that she gave investigators, family, and friends. Keep in mind that every time she, Wayne, or the Cornett’s talked to investigaters, they’re stories changed.
Scenario #1: She had to pee and was gone for five minutes when she heard popping noises and the shed was on fire.
Scenario #2: She went back in to help clean up Thanksgiving dinner. At the time of the fire, she was washing dishes and happened to look out the window. She saw the shed on fire and rushed outside.
Scenario #3: While she took the boys outside to sleep, Wayne showered. She put them to sleep and grabbed clean clothes for him and some clothes to wash. And then she went back in and took a shower. While she was in the shower, it is not known where Wayne was. After the shower, she sat down to visit with the Cornett’s when they all heard popping noises.
Scenario #4: She left them out there asleep, returning every fifteen minutes or so to check on them. Prior to the fire, she was bringing in a can of propane for Virginia Cornett. She had just set it down inside when popping noises were heard and the shed was on fire.
Scenario #5: She went outside to smoke a cigarette with Wayne.
Scenario #6: She put them to bed around 8pm in the guest house and went back in to clean up in the main house.
Furthermore, the news reported that she was badly burned trying to go through the wall to get to Trevor and Leland. According to the reports, one of her hands was merely cut. Her hand was cleaned and bandaged at the hospital but did not require stitches. No one else was injured.
When asked to submit to a blood test, Wayne agreed and then retracted stating that he would test positive for marijauna.
Regardless of her stories, two little boys are dead. A family is mourning their loss because she decided it was best that their father not be in their lives. She decided it was best to put them in a storage shed and leave them alone in it.
She told investigaters that she was visiting for the holidays and they weren’t actually living there. When the investigation was concluded, it was revealed that she was living there per temporary arrangements while she waited for an apartment/house to open up closer to her place of employment.
The truth was that she’d been staying there for two weeks prior to the fire and had moved FROM a place that was closer to where she worked. She worked in Lorena, TX and had been living in Chilton, TX in a travel trailer before moving to Slater, TX. You do the math, which is closer? Which would have been safer?
Furthermore, it isn’t known for sure if she actually slept in the trailer or not. What is known is that this was not the first time she lived with Wayne & his parents. This was actually the fourth time since returning to Texas in May 2010. Between four and five months after Trevor and Leland’s deaths, Crystal returned to Slater and lived out there for roughly a week’s time. According to the fire marshal’s report, nothing was left of the shed except part of the floor and several wall studs. So there is no shed and I’d be inclined to believe that Wayne had a room in the trailer being that it was his parents’ home. So, given that Crystal and Wayne had been living together off and on since May 31, 2010. They definitely were sleeping together and she would be sharing a room with him.
The reports substantiate that Trevor and Leland never woke from their slumber and died in their sleep of smoke inhalation and thermal burns. A blessing for them if ever there was one. However, if they’d have awoken and tried to get out, the exit was blocked and there were no other exits. No way out. If they awoke and cried out, only God knows because the person that should have been protecting them wasn’t there. All they ever had was each other.
She would have you feel sorry for her and she even took up donations to help her start over. Her work paid for the funeral that she excluded James from planning any of. Her work paid for an apartment for her and Wayne to live in for deposit and first month. She received furniture, clothes, and money from people that felt sorry because she supposedly lost everything in a fire that could have been avoided. Everyone felt sorry for a mother who lost both her children and they ignored that she was responsible for it: that her choices and actions led to the death of two children that died way too young. Two children that deserved the best life had to offer them but were denied because they didn’t fall into her wants and needs.