Affidavit: Grandmother was first person out of burning home, made no attempt to save children

Posted at 4:51 AM, Nov 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-19 17:02:41-05

An arrest has been made in connection to the two-alarm house fire that killed two young siblings on Nov. 2.

The Waco Fire Marshal's Office said the fire started in the kitchen area of the back of the house. They said it was set by an occupant of the home, but they have not determined if it was set accidentally or intentionally. 

The grandmother of the 4-year-old and 2-year-old killed has been arrested. Waco police said 44-year-old Andrea Aleman's actions and/or lack thereof were reckless and contributed to the deaths of both children.

According to the arrest affidavit, Aleman changed her story about what happened during the fire and her escape multiple times during the course of the investigation.

During a follow-up interview, Aleman told investigators when she learned about the fire from the children, she did not immediately get up. She said she stayed in bed for several minutes before getting up and seeing the fire in the kitchen, where there was a pile of clothes, trash and children's toys.

The affidavit says Aleman briefly called out for the children from the next room and then left the home without ensuring that all the children had made it out safely.

The 11-year-old told investigators Aleman was the first person to get out of the house.

When Aleman realized the children were not with her, she made no effort to get them out of the house. 

The aunt of the children, Felicia Puente, said the arrest is giving the family some closure. 

"I had a big relief because some justice is being served for them," Puente said. "I'm still not blaming her for what happened. I wasn't there. I don't know what happened."

Waco Police Sgt. Patrick Swanton said Aleman "abandoned her grandchildren in a burning house and took no action to get them help."

She was charged with two counts of injury to a child.

The Fire Marshal's Office said Aleman knew there was a fire before the smoke detectors were activated. They said she was able to leave her side of the duplex with her 11-year-old daughter. Two people living in the front part of the duplex also made it out safely. 

On Nov. 19, the 11-year-old was removed from Aleman's home and the state gained temporary custody of the teenager.

Puente said she still can't understand the actions of the grandmother.

"Why didn't she try harder to get them out of there?" Puente questioned. "For them to be left like that by themselves and no one to go back to get them. Why would you do that to children?"

Puente and her husband John added they miss the children dearly,

"I feel like I lost my own children because they were always with us," Puente said. 

At 1:37 a.m. on Nov. 2,  the Waco Fire Department responded to the home in the 1200 block of Webster Avenue.

Waco Fire Chief Bobby Tatum said when firefighters arrived, they learned there were people trapped inside the home.

Tatum said a grandmother was at her home with three children, the 4-year-old, 2-year-old and an 11-year-old. The siblings were spending the night at their grandmother's house when the fire happened. 

The children have been identified as Rachel Rose Aleman and Anthony Cole Puente. Puente said both of them were loved dearly.

Aleman and the 11-year-old are OK.

The fire was under control by 2:05 a.m. The Waco Fire Department said the two children were taken to the hospital in critical condition.

The two children were pronounced dead later in the morning. They died of smoke inhalation, the affidavit says.

Tatum said about 50 percent of the home was damaged by the fire. The damage is estimated at $40,000.

Family members of the two are still heartbroken about losing their loved ones. Puente said Anthony tried to act as the hero for his little sister but they were at a loss on how to get out. 

"We always told him take care of your sister keep her hand by you," Puente said. "I just think he just got confused and we told him about the tornadoes and with the tornadoes you find in the bathroom and we think that's what they did." 

Rachel and Anthony's visitation was set for Nov. 8 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at OakCrest Funeral Home. Both were buried at Oakwood Cemetery at 11 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 9. 

You can donate through the family's GoFundMe here

Copyright 2018 KXXV. All rights reserved.