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Category Archives: Waco Tribune Herald

These articles were published in a local paper: Waco Tribune-Herald. The articles are only available for pay-for-view on the Tribune-Herald site and have been added here for convenience and access.

Waco Tribune Herald Article #5

No charges brought in deaths of twin boys

By Kirsten Crow & Chelsea Quackenbush

Tribune-Herald staff writers

Thursday June 23, 2011 

 

A grand jury declined to issue indictments in a case involving the deaths of twin 2-year-old boys who were killed in a Thanksgiving night fire, Coryell County officials said Wednesday.

The deaths of Trevor Ray Coleman and Leland Nolan Coleman, caused by thermal burns and smoke inhalation, were ruled as accidental by a medical examiner. Officials think the fire may have been sparked by a butane heater.

“I’m glad that it’s over with and my kids can rest in peace now,” Crystal Lee Coleman, the mother of the twin boys, said Wednesday. “I’m glad that people can now see the true me. People that know me and love me, and people who don’t love me, know I was a good parent.”

There was no indication of foul play in the deaths, but Coryell County Sheriff Johnny Burks said at the time of the fire that the case likely would be presented to the grand jury to make a decision about whether it was appropriate to file charges.

At the time of the blaze, Coleman, her boyfriend and her sons were staying in a storage shed that was converted to an apartment. It was a temporary arrangement while the family waited for a house they rented to become available, according to authorities.

The structure was on property owned by the parents of Coleman’s boyfriend, located in the 400 block of Star Lane, near the Slater community in Coryell County.

Officials said the fire broke out about 10 p.m. Nov. 25, 2010, shortly after Coleman put the children to bed.

According to a report by the State Fire Marshal’s Office, Coleman was in the nearby mobile home owned by her boyfriend’s parents when she “heard a noise that drew her attention to the involved structure. She indicated that when she looked outside, it was burning intensely.”

Gatesville volunteer firefighters, based 16 miles away, responded to the scene, but the building was fully engulfed in flames when they arrived.

The bodies of the children later were discovered in the rubble.

Coleman was treated for injuries, authorities said, after she tried to pull off the metal siding of the structure in an attempt to save her children.

The fire marshal’s report indicated the heater may have been too large for the “small space within the building and the amount of personal effects.”

He also said the building lacked smoke detectors, and that the children were too young “to be able to respond adequately to exit the structure.”

 

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Waco Tribune Herald Article #4

Coryell Authorities prepare case for the fire that killed twin boys

By Kirsten Crow Tribune-Herald staff writer

Saturday May 28, 2011

Six months after a fire killed twin 2-year-old boys Thanksgiving night, the Coryell County Sheriff’s Office is preparing a case for review by the district attorney.

A medical examiner ruled the deaths were accidental. No charges have been filed and sheriff’s officials did not speculate what potential charges could be pursued, saying it would be up to the grand jury and the Coryell County district attorney to decide.

Authorities are waiting for the results of an investigation by the Texas Rangers before turning over the case, Sheriff Johnny Burks said.

An investigation by the State Fire Marshal’s Office, meanwhile, has concluded.

After examining the evidence, the investigator said the fire is thought to have ignited in the area where the heater was located, judging by debris that included pieces of the 18,000 BTU butane space heater. A flat-screen television near the heater also was destroyed, according to the report.

The investigator noted that the storage building, which was converted into a two-room living quarter, was lacking smoke or fire detectors, and that the heater was likely too large to safely use in the small space.

One room was described as 8-by-11 feet; the other was 8-by-8 feet.

Local firefighters also thought that the fire late Nov. 25, 2010, may have been sparked by a butane heater. At the time of the blaze, Crystal Lee Coleman, then 22, was staying with her boyfriend, 31-year-old Lloyd Fulfer, and her twin boys, Trevor Ray Coleman and Leland Nolan Coleman, in the building.

It was a temporary arrangment that Fulfer’s parents, Clifford and Virginia Cornett, had agreed to while Fulfer and the Colemans waited for the house they had rented to become available, according to the report.

The building was located close to a mobile home also owned by the Cornetts, in the 400 block of Star Lane, in a rural area of Coryell County.

Coleman and her sons spent Thanksgiving Day at the mobile home with her boyfriend and his family, she told authorities.

After dinner, she took the twins out to the building and put them to bed, then returned to the Cornetts’ mobile home, according to the documents. The space heater was on when she left the building, Coleman told investigators.

‘Burning intensely’

“According to Crystal, she finished her shower and was talking to Mr. and Mrs. Cornett when she heard a noise that drew her attention to the involved structure,” states the report. “She indicated that when she looked outside, the building was burning intensely.”

A caller reported the fire at 10 p.m.

Gatesville volunteer firefighters, based 16 miles away, responded to the scene, along with Coryell County sheriff’s deputies, but the building was fully engulfed in flames when they arrived, officials said.

After extinguishing the blaze, officials found the children inside, still on the air mattress where their mother had put them to bed, according to the report.

They were five days shy of their third birthdays.

Trevor and Leland Coleman were burned beyond recognition, according to the report. An autopsy later determined they had died of thermal burns and smoke inhalation.

The manner of death has been ruled as accidental.

Authorities also reported that Crystal Coleman incurred injuries while trying to pull off the siding of the building in an attempt to save her children.

Officials remained on the scene nearly all the next day, sifting through the evidence.

The deputy fire marshal noted in his report that an “external examination showed that the entire structure had been consumed, with only a portion of the floor and several wall studs remaining.”

Investigators brought in an accelerant-sniffing dog to check for evidence of arson. The canine did not alert officials to any accelerants, and samples sent to the Texas Department of Public Safety Crime Lab found no evidence of ignitable fluids, according to the documents.

The investigator wrote in his report that the heater could have posed a safety issue.

“The combination of the small space within the building and the amount of personal effects for the four of them would make it very difficult to provide a safe zone around a heater of this size,” the report states.

Exit blocked

The investigator also noted that there “were no fire or smoke detection devices in the structure and the age of the victims would have prevented them from being able to respond adequately to exit the structure.

“The area of origin for the fire would have also blocked the only exit and made it impossible for them to exit.”

The day after the fatal blaze, Sheriff Johnny Burks decribed the situation as sad, saying he wasn’t sure whether his office would pursue charges.

“It’s a tragic loss and it depends on the investigation and what we determine,” Burks said. “It’s hard to punish someone going through something like this.”

Officials at the scene the day after the fire said family members had declined interview requests. A phone message left with the family Friday was not immediately returned.

kcrow@wacotrib.com

757-5748

 

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Waco Tribune Herald Article #3

CPS joins investigation into Thanksgiving fire deaths of twin 2-year-olds

 By Chelsea Quackenbush and Kirsten Crow Tribune-Herald staff writers

 Wednesday December 1, 2010

Child Protective Services joined the investigation into a fire that killed twin 2-year-old boys in Slater on Thanksgiving night.

Preliminary autopsy reports for the boys were released Tuesday.

CPS previously investigated Crystal Lee Coleman, 22, the mother of Trevor Ray Coleman and Leland Nolan Coleman, in Nevada before she moved to Texas, CPS spokeswoman Julie Moody said.

In June, CPS’ Texas division followed up with Coleman from the Nevada case about concerns of domestic violence in the family, Moody said.

“The children were seen at that time and exhibited no signs of abuse or neglect,” Moody said in an e-mail. “The case was still open at the time of this incident because she moved before it could be closed.”

The Gatesville Fire Department responded to a call in the 400 block of Star Lane on Thursday night.

The toddlers were sleeping in a small storage building that had been converted into living quarters and was ablaze when firefighters arrived. They were pronounced dead at 10 p.m.

CPS protocol calls for investigating all child deaths, but this case might require further investigation depending on the evidence, Moody said.

Coryell County Justice of the Peace Jimmy Wood said Tuesday that preliminary autopsy results indicate the twins died of thermal burns and smoke inhalation.

The manner of death, he said, is listed as accidental.

“It doesn’t mean the case was closed – (the medical examiner) didn’t feel the death was on purpose,” Wood said. “They might find there was fault there.”

Meanwhile, an investigation led by the State Fire Marshal’s Office is continuing, said Jerry Hagins, a spokesman for the agency.

A report will likely not be available for at least another week, he said.

Coryell County Sheriff Johnny Burks said he wasn’t sure if any charges would be filed against Coleman.

The incident is under investigation by the Coryell County Sheriff’s Office, the Texas Rangers, Texas Department of Public Safety Crime Lab and the Texas State Fire Marshal.

 

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Waco Tribune Herald Article #1

Twin boys killed in Thanksgiving fire identified
Tribune-Herald staff

Saturday November 27, 2010 
Coryell County officials released the names of the 2-year-old twin boys who died in a fire Thanksgiving night in Slater.

Trevor Ray Coleman and Leland Nolan Coleman died in the fire about 10 p.m. Thursday. Their third birthday would have been Nov. 30, a Coryell County Sheriff’s Office news release said.

The Gatesville fire department received a call about a house fire located in the 400 block of Star Lane, in a rural community 16 miles west of Gatesville. The toddlers were sleeping in a small storage building that had been turned into an apartment.

The building was completely destroyed by time the fire department arrived.

The boys’ mother, Crystal Lee Coleman, 22, was in a nearby residence with her boyfriend, visiting her boyfriend’s parents for the holiday, the news release said. Burks said he wasn’t sure if any charges would be filed against Coleman.

“It’s a tragic loss and it depends on the investigation and what we determine,” Burks told the Tribune-Herald on Friday. “It’s hard to punish someone going through something like this.”

The children were sent to the Dallas Medical Examiner’s Office, according to Burks.

The incident is still under investigation by the Coryell County Sheriff’s Office; the Texas Rangers; Texas Department of Public Safety Crime Lab and the Texas State Fire Marshal.

 

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