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Man sought in deaths of three children in suspected meth lab fire

  1. Mick Mouse
    Atlanta (CNN)-Investigators in Georgia were looking Friday for a man who left the scene of a suburban Atlanta house fire that killed three children, authorities said.

    They said that the fire was caused by a suspected methamphetamine lab in the Liburn, Georgia, home.

    Gwinnett county police Capt. Jake Smith said that Ivan Gonzales had been charged with two counts of murder Friday, a day after firefighters found him attempting to extinguish the blaze with a garden hose.

    Gonzales, who Smith said received burns in the fire, told authorities that he was a family member and was headed to the hospital to be near the children injured in the fire.

    Gonzales, who is not related to the children, never reached the hospital, authorities said. Authorities checked other area hospitals and did not find Gonzales.

    Gonzales is described as being 5 feet, 7 inches tall and 190 pounds, with a tattoo of the Virgin Mary on his leg.

    The victims, whose names were not released, are an18 month old girl and two boys, age 3 and 4. Passersby pulled the children from the burning building. The children were taken to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta. one died Thursday and the other two died Friday morning.

    "The children had significant burn injuries and significant smoke inhalation injuries," said Gwinnett County Fire Department Capt. Tommy Rutledge.

    Rutledge said the fire started in a hallway between the kitchen and a stairwell in the center of the house.

    Smith said a third murder count is pending against Gonzales. Neibi Brito, the victims' mother, is charged with drug trafficking.

    "The lack of responsibility, of course, is disturbing." Smith said.

    "We have a tragic case involving three young children, but we are going to treat it professionally and not let the emotions of it get in the way of the investigation in any way."



  1. Mick Mouse
    Update-mom held, suspect sought in fatal meth-related fire

    Gwinnett County, Ga.-Gwinnett county police charged a man with murder after firefighters said they found chemicals related to methamphetamine production in a house fris that killed three children.

    A Gwinnett Police spokesman told Channel 2's Kerry Kavanaugh that officers charged Ivan Gonzales, 26, with two counts of murder and a third charge was pending. Police were searching for Gonzales, who they said drove off from the scene.

    The children's mother, Neibi Yamel Brito, 22, was charged with trafficking in methamphetamine. She was being held at the Gwinnett County Jail without bond, pending a Wednesday preliminary hearing. Brito made her first court appearance Saturday.

    The three children died despite the efforts of three men. Two teenagers told Channel 2's Eric Philips they spotted smoke coming from the home on Spring Mill Drive in Lilburn on Thursday afternoon.

    "We just heard this lady screaming about her babies so it was like adrenaline or whatever," said a teen identified only as Conner.

    Conner, his friend identified as Joshua, and a third passerby who had a ladder worked quickly to get the children out of the home. The teens told Philips the children were unconscious in an upstairs room.

    "We climbed on the roof and brought the children through the window," Joshua said. "I would pass them to someone else."

    Firefighters arrived as the rescuers carried the third child out. All three children, an 18 month-old, a 3-year-old, and a 4-year-old, died at the hospital.

    "It's hard with children. When anything bad happens to kids it's awful," neighbor Christy Burns told Philips.

    Investigators said the fire started in a hallway on the first floor when chemicals used in the manufacture of methamphetamine ignited. In the walls of the house, they found almost $200,000.00, 4,555 grams of liquid methamphetamine, and about one pound of finished methamphetamine, Gwinnett police Capt. Jake Smith said. He also said that investigators think that an additional 4 pounds of the drug burned in the fire.

    Police said that Gonzales said he would follow paramedics to the hospital but he never arrived. Officers described him as 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighing about 190 pounds. Gonzales has a large tattoo of Jesus on his calf, according to officials. They said his face may have been burned by the fire. Investigators told Kavanaugh that Gonzales was last seen driving a late model silver or gray Honda Accord or Civic. Gonzales also uses the alias John McGowan Torres, police said. Smith said that he may flee the state or try and cross into Mexico.

    Officers said in a Friday news conference that Gonzales was arrested a week ago with several other men in a home in Suwanee.

    Among those men was Antonia Cardenas-Rico, a man once suspected in the stabbing of three Gwinnett children and their father. Rico was cleared of those charges, and police released Gonzales as well but charged him with presenting false documents. Officers told Kavanaugh that they didn't believe the two incidents are related.

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