Wednesday, March 28, 2012

TOP STORY >> Fund is established for victims of blaze

Leader staff writer

A funeral fund has been set up at Regions Bank for the mother and her four children who were killed Thursday in a kitchen fire in Jacksonville.

Donations can be sent to routing number 082000109 and account number 0166651727.

“She was one of the best moms a kid could have. They were good kids. I was their dad and their best friend. I loved them dearly. They were my rock,” said Furlandare Singleton, the mother’s fiancé.

Marilyn Beavers, 30, her son, Dequan Singleton, 10, and her three daughters, Sydni Singleton, 9, Haylee Beavers, 6, and Emily Beavers, 4, died from smoke inhalation at their duplex apartment at 3A S. Simmons Drive.

A group funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Luke Baptist Church in Jacksonville. Arrangements are by Gunn Funeral Home in Little Rock.

Fletcher said, “The expense of five funerals is overwhelming. Obviously our police and fire still have needs, but the most immediate need now is helping this family put their loved ones to rest. This is another opportunity for our community to show their deep compassion.”

The cause of the fire at Max Howell Place, a low-income housing complex, is still under investigation, according to Jacksonville Fire Marshal Mike Williams. He said the department had a few leads, but he could not release them on Tuesday.

Williams confirmed the fire started in the kitchen and said it “probably smoldered out.”

He said he didn’t believe anyone opened any windows or vents.

A relative said Tuesday that he was told the fire started after the family warmed up some French fries in the oven.

But Singleton, the fiancé, doubted that.

He said, “I’ve never, ever known her (Marilyn) to leave a stove on. That puzzled me.”

Jennifer Gray, who lives next door in 3B, called 911 a few hours before the bodies were found because she smelled smoke.

Firefighters first responded to the duplex at 5:50 a.m. Thursday.

They left 30 minutes later after finding no sign of a fire. She was told smoke had drifted from another fire across the freeway, about a mile away. That fire leveled an unoccupied home at 3400 Northeastern Ave.

Firefighters did a walkthrough of Gray’s apartment, an external walk around the duplex and used a thermal imager, a device that detects heat. The fire did not cause any damage to the exterior of the building, Williams said.

Tom Vanhoveln and Bobby Snow, maintenance men for the Jacksonville Housing Authority, which manages the duplexes, entered 3A around 7 a.m. in response to a call from Gray.

They said the smoke detector was going off when they entered.

The two men found smoke and the children in their beds.

The fire had gone out by the time firefighters arrived for a second time at 7:30 a.m. Thursday.

The fire marshal said the department uses thermal imagers frequently and it couldn’t have malfunctioned.

“When they fail, they don’t come on,” Williams said.

Firefighters also knocked on the door of 3A, but didn’t go inside when no one answered.

Williams said it is department policy that firefighters not enter a residence uninvited when there is no sign of a fire, especially for their own safety as some individuals may have firearms and shoot at intruders.

The state fire marshal is advising the department in this case. The Jacksonville Police Department, state Crime Lab and county coroner are also involved in the investigation, Williams said.

He said, “I’m sure there will be” an internal investigation, and that is typical for any incident like this one.

Singleton said he talked to the family at 2:3o a.m., hours before firefighters first responded to the scene. They were eating ice cream and watching movies, enjoying spring break.

He was on the phone with Marilyn’s dad when her dad arrived at the scene.

“All I heard was a scream. He said, ‘It’s over. They’re gone.’ I almost ran off a bridge. I saw my life flash before my eyes. It hurt.

“I’m deeply disappointed in the fire department. I’m not sitting up here saying they could have saved them. I don’t know that. But at least I would have had the satisfaction of them trying,” Singleton said.

He met Marilyn, the mother, 16 years ago, when they were in ninth-grade.

The two were going to be married at the courthouse in a few weeks.

Marilyn wanted the children to have the same last name when they moved from the cramped three-bedroom duplex to a five-bedroom house near Cato Elementary School. They lived at Max Howell for seven years.

Emily just started school this year at Homer Adkins Pre-K and she loved it. Haylee’s favorite book was “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss, and she wanted to help people in trouble. Sydni liked writing songs and cooking with her mom. Dequan was an athlete and in the talented and gifted program.


The Singleton-Beavers family, consisting of Marilyn Beavers, 30; Emily Beavers, 4; Dequan Singleton, 10; Sydni Singleton, 9, and Haylee Singleton, 6, all of Jacksonville, passed away March 22.

The family was very happy and full of joy. Some of their pastimes consisted of skating, events, cheerleading, football and basketball, just to name a few. Marilyn was a very loving and caring mother, daughter, sister and friend. She provided care to others, especially her mom.

The most important thing in her world was God and her kids. She enjoyed planning outings and events for them to participate in. They will truly be missed. Dequan had dreams to be in the NFL. Sydni wanted to be a songwriter.

Haylee wanted to be a private investigator. Emily was going to be the boss. She most definitely enjoyed bossing everyone around.

Marilyn Beaver was born Dec. 29, 1981. She is survived by her fiancée, Furlandare Singleton; parents, Marilyn and George Beavers; grandmother, Ruthie Ingram; sisters, Kimberly Beavers and Tamera Downing, and a host of other relatives and friends.

Dequan Singleton was born Aug. 10, 2001.

Haylee Singleton was born May 18, 2005.

Sydni Singleton was born Feb. 1, 2003.

They are survived by a loving father, Furlandare Singleton; two siblings, Nadia and Furlandare Singleton Jr.; two grandfathers, Paul Jones and George Beavers; two grandmothers, Marilyn Beavers and Jean Singleton, and a host of other relatives and friends.

Emily Beaver was born Feb. 26, 2008. She is survived by her father, Clyde Hatchett; stepfather, Furlandare Single-ton; brother; Furlandare Singleton Jr.; sister; Nadia Singleton, and a host of other relatives and friends.

Visitation for all will be from 6 to 8p.m. Friday, March 30 at St. Luke Baptist Church, 8205 Hwy. 161, North Little Rock. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 31 at St. Luke Baptist Church. Services entrusted to Gunn Funeral Home in Little Rock.