(CBS/AP) RAYNE, La. - The 26-year-old mother of four children killed in a fire in a southern Louisiana mobile home was booked Sunday on four counts of negligent homicide, state police said.
Neighbors said Shaqueta McDade left her children, aged 2 through fifth grade, home alone. Melinda Miller said she had called police Friday night to report that the children had been left without an adult, but they were released back to their mother Saturday which was the day of the fire, The Advertiser of Lafayette, La., reported.
The oldest child was staying with relatives when the fire broke out in the house trailer shortly before midnight Saturday, killing Jamari McDade, 8; Amous Mouton Jr., 7; LaShay McDade, 5, and Brian Steiner, 2.
Several neighbors tried to break in to rescue the children but the heat was too intense, said Marshall Goodley, a neighbor.
Miller said the children were often left unattended.
"They were too young to be home alone, entirely too young," she said.
Crystal Douga, who lives across the street from the trailer, said she called police about a month ago after she found the two-year-old walking the streets alone at midnight.
On Sunday, state fire investigators figured out that the fire started in the living room, the State Fire Marshal's Office said.
McDade's family declined an interview, saying they were trying to learn what happened, ABC affiliate KATC reported.