|Birth: ||Dec. 8, 1996|
|Death: ||Mar. 25, 2008|
The Morning News, pg 4A
BENTONVILLE - Kimberly Dawn Frazier, 11, of Bentonville passed away March 25, 2008, at her home.
She was born Dec. 8, 1996, in Springdale.
She attended Ruth Hale Barker Middle School in Bentonville where she was an honor roll student and was in the choir. She enjoyed dancing and watching "High School Musical" and "Hannah Montana."
She is survived by her mother, Sarah Lee Pitts-Frazier and husband Alan Jay Woodworth; her father, Jamie Dale Frazier and Karry Mahmens Frazier of Bentonville; one brother, Jonathan Anthony Newton of Garfield; grandparents, Bill and Judy Bargay of Seligman, Mo., Bob and Kathy Mahmens of Bentonville and great-grandmother, Dorothy Smith of Pea Ridge. She is also survived by several aunts, uncles and cousins.
Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday, March 30 at Rollins Funeral Home in Rogers, www.mem.com.
Services will be at 1 p.m. Monday, March 31, at Word of Life Fellowship, 808 S.W. 14th St., Bentonville. Burial will be in Union Chapel Cemetery.
Memorials may be made to the family, c/o Rollins Funeral Home, 1401 Hudson Road, Rogers, 72756.
Fire Kills Five Girls In Bentonville
By Richard Dean Prudenti
THE MORNING NEWS
BENTONVILLE - Five sisters who slept in the same room on the second floor of their Bentonville home died together in a fire early Tuesday morning.
The girls' parents, Jamie Dale Frazier, 33, and Karry A. Mahmens Frazier, 27, were downstairs and escaped without injury after a smoke detector alerted them to fire and smoke about 1:22 a.m.
JOSH DOOLEY • THE MORNING NEWS
Friends and family move saved belongings into 406 S.W. "B" St. Tuesday after five girls died in an early morning fire. According to the Bentonville Fire Department, the children, ages 7 to 13, died when fired engulfed the home. The parents were awakened by a smoke detector but could not reach their children who were asleep in second-floor rooms.
About two minutes later, Bentonville firefighters reached the rental house at 402 S.W. "B" St. and found the couple's five children dead. Police identified them as Kristan Frazier, 13; Kimberly Frazier, 11; Katelyn Mahmens, 9; Kaila Frazier, 8; and Kiya Frazier, 5, who would have turned 6 in April.
"This is the nightmare firefighters dread," said Bentonville Fire Chief Dan White.
Investigators suspect a space heater between beds and the wall in the girls' room started the fire.
Firefighters arriving at the scene found the fire making its way from the second floor down a narrow stairwell, which was the only access to the 336-square-foot second floor except for a small window that would have been difficult for a person to get through, White said.
The parents were distraught on the scene, said Bentonville Police Chief James Allen. "Apparently the dad tried to go back upstairs even after the fire department got there," he said.
All of the children were in "sleeping positions" in a room where two of them lay on twin beds side by side, and three of them were on the floor, White said.
"They were exposed to the smoke for too long," he said.
Intense fire kept Karry and Jamie Frazier from saving their children, said Kathy Mahmens of Bentonville, the children's maternal grandmother.
"They tried to get up the stairs and they couldn't," she said.
Kristan and Kimberly were Jamie Frazier's daughters from a prior marriage, Katelyn was Karry Frazier's daughter from a prior marriage and Kaila and Kiya were the Fraziers' daughters together, Mahmens said.
The Frazier sisters were tight-knit, and the oldest was protective of the others, said 12-year-old Taylor Shelby, a neighbor who was Kristan's friend.
Kristan Frazier liked fishing for crawdads in creeks, playing Guitar Hero, drawing and reading, Shelby said. She was always coloring, drawing or reading on the school bus instead of talking with friends, she said.
The friends spent three hours sitting and talking Easter Sunday about school and the holiday.
"I'm so sad," Shelby said. "We were talking and she's laughing and now it's just like I'm not going to have her around anymore."
Bentonville Superintendent Gary Compton said teachers and principals were reeling Tuesday from the loss of five students.
"It's always a really sad day when somebody young loses their lives. The schools are struggling," Compton said.
The Fraziers had lived in Bentonville for several years and the children had been in the public schools for some time, Compton said.
He and school administrators met with principals at Lincoln Junior High School, Ruth Hale Barker Middle School and Sugar Creek Elementary School on Tuesday morning to help those schools' staffs handle their emotions and determine what to tell students.
Autopsies at the medical examiner's office in Little Rock will help determine causes of death, Allen said during a news conference Tuesday. Investigators also sent the portable electric heater from the girls' room to the state Crime Laboratory, he said.
"It looks like this is accidental based on the space heater," he said.
Neighbors said the inside of the house was less than ideal, with the insulation exposed from the walls and clothes strewn on the floor because the children had no dressers.
Allen said that Department of Human Services had received calls from those concerned about the living conditions and treatment of the children.
Police are investigating the presence of drug paraphernalia and small amounts of what they believe to be methamphetamine and marijuana in the house, Allen said. There were no signs that methamphetamine was being manufactured in the house, and neither parent was tested for drug use, Allen said.
"Fires can happen in any home," Allen said.
The police department has received many call complaints regarding the address. The nature of these calls "run the gamut" and include complaints about animals, noise, harassment and domestic disputes.
"In spite of everything, they were good kids. They were sweethearts," said Brynna Bush, whose 12-year-old daughter, Aislinn Bush, was friends with Kristan and Kimberly.
The children normally played together at Aislinn's house.
On Monday night, Kimberly and Kristan came by the house and jumped on the trampoline in the yard. One of the last things they did together was hang out at the library and share a root beer float, Aislinn said.
Still in her pajamas, Aislinn said Tuesday morning she didn't know what she was feeling.
"You think they are gone for a day, but really they are gone for the rest of your life," Bush said.
The Morning News' Scarlet Sims and Lana F. Flowers contributed to this report.
HOW TO HELP
An Arvest Bank account has been set up for the Frazier family to help pay for the burials of the five children, said Carol Martin, a friend of the children's grandmother, Kathy Mahmens. For more information, call Arvest at 271-1253.
No funeral arrangements had been made Tuesday.
Source: Staff Report
Family, Community Mourns Five Girls
Funeral Follows Fatal House Fire
Last updated Monday, March 31, 2008 7:56 PM CDT in News
By Richard Dean Prudenti
THE MORNING NEWS
BENTONVILLE -- Pink, white, red, purple and yellow carnations within dozens of flower arrangements framed the funeral service of five girls who died in a house fire last week.
Chosen for the program were both songs and verse that described the sisters as flowers in God's garden.
In one of its opening songs, a barbershop trio sang, "Gathering flowers for the master's bouquet. Beautiful flowers that will never decay. Gathered by angels and carried away. Forever to bloom in the master's bouquet."
Family, friends and hundreds of community members came to Word of Life Fellowship to say goodbye to the girls -- Kristan Rena Frazier, 13; Kimberly Dawn Frazier, 11; Katelyn Deann Mahmens, 9; Kaila Anne Frazier, 8; and Kiya Reann Frazier, 5.
Inside the program, a poem titled "God's Heavenly Garden," read, "Sometimes God picks the flower that is still in full bloom; Sometimes the rosebud's chosen that we feel He's picked too soon."
City officials say the fire started in the immediate area of a space heater in the children's bedroom on the second floor of their home at 402 S.W. "B" St. Investigators believe the sisters died while asleep from smoke and soot inhalation.
The girls' parents -- Jamie Dale Frazier, 33, and Karry A. Mahmens Frazier, 27 -- were downstairs and escaped after a smoke detector alerted them. They couldn't get upstairs to the girls.
"It shakes us -- the whole community is stunned," the Rev. Bill Rogers said during the service from behind glistening white caskets and five gold-framed portraits of the girls.
A Bentonville mother whose daughter attended Sugar Creek Elementary School with Katelyn, Kiya and Kaila shared her thoughts before the service in the back of the worship center.
"They were full of life -- all of them," she said.
Perhaps Word of Life had a lot to do with the children's joy. Large smiles or complete contentment graced the faces of the girls in a slide show of photographs shown before the funeral began.
In one photograph, Kristan has her hands raised in concentrated worship.
"Knowing those girls as long as I've known them, it would be a shame to walk out of this building today without talking about how they at least made us smile or laugh at one time or another," said Leon Fletcher, who has known the family for eight years.
Fletcher drove the church bus and picked up the children for Sunday services.
"We love this family. I've often have compared our relationship with this family as that of a mighty oak tree. We had very deep roots that kept us grounded," Fletcher said.
Fletcher shared stories of the five -- from the oldest who was a "magnet" for poison ivy as a little girl at church camp to the youngest, whom he fondly remembers sitting next to him during Sunday church services.
"She'd sit beside me with her head buried in my side, and I'd sit there and I'd stroke her hair. And life was good -- very good," he said.
"One Sunday morning I caught myself, and I realized I wasn't even listening to the pastor anymore. I had gotten lost in looking at that little girl and thinking of how beautiful she was and how she made me smile every time I was around her," he continued.
Fletcher added, "I can tell you -- without a doubt in my mind -- I know, I know that I know I'm going to see them again. ... They're there. They're safe."
Kimberly and Katelyn equally enjoyed music and movement. They both loved dancing. Kimberly was in the choir at Ruth Hale Barker Middle School where she was an honor roll student, and Katelyn was known for her singing and she liked cooking with her mom and grandmother.
Dorothea K. Barwick's poem "God's Heavenly Garden" summarized the message others shared about the children:
"There is a heavenly garden in which God takes great pleasure because he's placed within it the loved ones we treasure. He walks among the blossoms giving them eternal rest, and I know that it must please him because he chose our very best."
AT A GLANCE
Place Of Rest
Union Chapel Cemetery in Garfield is the final resting place for Kristan Frazier, Kimberly Frazier, Katelyn Mahmens, Kaila Frazier and Kiya Frazier.
Memorials may be made to the family in care of the Rollins Funeral Home, 1401 Hudson Road, Rogers, 72756. Online condolences may be made at www.mem.com.
An Arvest Bank account in the Frazier family's name has been set up to help pay for the burials. Go to any Arvest Bank branch in Northwest Arkansas to donate. For more information, call 271-1253.
Source: Staff Report
Bad Wiring Caused Fatal Fire, Prosecutor Says
Parents of Five Deceased Children Arrested On Drug Charges
Thursday, August 7, 2008 9:27 PM CDT in News
By Robin Mero
The Morning News
BENTONVILLE - Substandard, faulty wiring in a decrepit Bentonville home caused a March fire that killed five girls ages five to 13 as they slept in an upstairs bedroom, Benton County Prosecutor Van Stone said Thursday.
The girls' parents are not criminally negligent in the deaths, despite testing positive for marijuana use and apparently being intoxicated, Stone said.
The girls died quickly from smoke and soot inhalation, Stone said he was told by the medical examiner.
"There was really no hope for the girls upstairs," Stone said. "The parents being drunk did not contribute to the children's deaths."
Jamie Frazier, 33, and wife Karry Mahmens, 27, will be charged in Circuit Court with possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia, both misdemeanors, he said. They will be arraigned Sept. 15 before Senior Circuit Judge Tom Keith.
Frazier and Mahmens were found naked and distraught in the street in front of the 402 S.W. "B" St. home when firefighters arrived at 1:24 a.m. March 25, and officials said they smelled strongly of alcohol, had blurred speech and were stumbling.
Their drug and alcohol use likely contributed to deplorable conditions in the home, Stone said, and they will probably be ordered to complete the county drug court program.
Defense attorney Brad Karren said Thursday the couple's blood alcohol was not tested, so officials gave only an opinion about their intoxication. A drug test administered hours after the fire revealed both recently had used marijuana.
"The Fraziers understand there's some need for treatment, and I think they would agree this is best for the community and themselves," Karren said.
Jamie Frazier has been convicted of many misdemeanors, including driving while intoxicated with children in his vehicle, possessing marijuana and 13 counts of driving on a suspended license. Mahmens was arrested for driving while intoxicated less than three weeks ago.
The family had a rent-to-own contract on the two-story home with landlord Mike Bedford.
The state Department of Health and Human Services investigated the family's living situation in 2004, after the youngest child - then 18 months - was found wandering outside in freezing temperatures without pants or shoes. That department has declined to release any information, but police reports indicate concern about supervision, hygiene and lack of water and heat in the home.
Many walls and ceilings in the house had no wallboard or insulation, police said in a probable cause affidavit after the fire. The kitchen was particularly filthy, with mouse droppings, molded food and rodent nests in cabinets and drawers. The refrigerator was empty, and the only edible food was canned.
After the fire, a partially-eaten can of pork and beans, with a spoon inside, was found between two of the girls' bodies upstairs.
Dirty clothing was piled two feet high in the laundry room and scattered throughout the downstairs living area were a smoking pipe and bong, a partially-burned marijuana cigarette, a grinder and a plastic bag with marijuana residue, the affidavit said.
The night before the fire, Frazier put Kristan, 13, Kimberly, 11, Katelyn, 9, Kaila, 8, and Kiya, 5, to bed about 9 p.m. in an upstairs room with two twin beds. He turned on a radiator-style space heater and closed the door, he said in a fire department interview.
The girls slept in their clothes, and the beds had no sheets or blankets, according to the report. Kaila slept on the floor, surrounded by end tables, a dollhouse, television set and video games, Frazier said.
Frazier and Mahmens woke about 1:22 a.m. to a smoke detector sounding in their bedroom and a carbon monoxide monitor emitting beeps and a voice warning. Smoke filled the room halfway from ceiling to floor.
They escaped without injury, but Frazier tried unsuccessfully to go back inside and rescue the girls.
When firefighters arrived, flames were spreading from the second floor down a narrow stairwell.
Fire officials initially suspected the space heater as a cause, but the report pinpoints faulty attic wiring on the home's west side that served the outlet used by the space heater.
The wires overheated, igniting insulation and wood, determined Lt. James Birchfield, the fire inspector.
Many bare wires were found in the attic, and the parents told fire officials that a relative had been doing electrical work there.
Karren confirmed he had spoken with the parents about possible legal action against the space heater manufacturer but hadn't seen the Bentonville Fire Department investigation report as of Thursday afternoon.
The Office of Human Concern had been to the house several times to assist the family, including installing three working smoke detectors upstairs, and more downstairs, in the summer of 2007. The batteries were good until 2011. Other employees visited the home in December 2007, noting the detectors were in place.
After the fire, firefighters found two detectors in place upstairs, but two of three batteries were missing in each. Stone said the girls may have removed them for use in their toys, since toys holding the same size batteries were found in the room.
Stone said Frazier and Mahmens will be the first misdemeanor participants in the county's drug court, and, if they fail to complete the program, could be sentenced up to a year in jail.
Mahmens turned herself in to the Bentonville Police Department to be cited and released Thursday evening, Karren said.
Frazier had been jailed Monday during a court appearance for a 2004 conviction on several misdemeanor charges - hot checks, driving on a suspended license, no proof of insurance and several counts of felony failure to appear. He hasn't paid $1,055 in fines and Keith jailed him for 26 days in exchange for that obligation.
Mahmens was arrested July 19 for driving while intoxicated. She was released two days later from the Benton County Jail. The couple is living in Decatur, according to court documents.
Family Continues To Mourn Children's Deaths
March 2008 Fire Took Five Girls' Lives
March 24, 2009
By Richard Dean Prudenti
THE MORNING NEWS
BENTONVILLE -- People one day will hear laughter of youth on the site where an early morning blaze last year destroyed a home and took the lives of five children.
Habitat for Humanity of Benton County wants to build a new home at 402 S.W. "B" St. so a family with children can live there and honor the memory of the Frazier family children who died from smoke and soot inhalation March 25.
The fire killed Kristan, 13, Kimberly, 11, Katelyn Mahmens, 9, Kaila, 8, and Kiya, 5, who were asleep in their upstairs bedroom.
"It's going to be a tender time when kids play in the backyard and life resumes on that property," said Debby Wieneke, executive director for Habitat for Humanity of Benton County.
Wieneke hopes for a swingset in the backyard to "bring more laughter to a place that has had a lot of tears," she said.
The organization would like to begin building a 1,200-square-foot home on the 80-foot by 110-foot lot this spring, depending on sponsorship. The organization paid $15,000 for the lot that was valued at $29,000. The former property owner, Mike Bedford, had rented the house to the Frazier family.
"He said he wanted to do whatever he could to turn such a tragedy into a positive," Wieneke said.
Tom Smith, owner of Roll Off Service, and Pat Adams with Adams Excavation donated their services in December, so the property is now cleared and ready for a new house.
"It would be nice to see the property with flowers again -- with kids laughing and playing. That would be nice," said Leon Fletcher, a family friend who attends Word of Life Fellowship where the family went to church.
Bobbie Fletcher, his wife, and children's pastor at the church, continues to pray for the family, especially the parents -- Jamie Frazier and Karry Mahmens -- who escaped the fire from their downstairs bedroom, where the fire alarm worked. The upstairs fire alarm had no battery. Fire prevented the couple from attempting to rescue the children. The children died in their sleep, according to the medical examiner's report.
The Fletchers said the parents have good and bad days and know they can count on them for support.
"I talk with them every couple weeks. We try to focus on the happy times -- whatever makes us laugh," Bobbie Fletcher said.
The parents still live in Northwest Arkansas but outside of Bentonville.
The family speaks infrequently about the fire. The children's maternal grandmother, Kathy Mahmens, said the parents still need time to reach the point where emotionally they can talk about their children's deaths.
"We are never going to get over this," she said.
"Hardly a day goes by that I don't think about them," she said. "Those little girls -- they were beautiful little girls. Bright. The community has really lost out on those little girls."
Talking about it hurts a lot, said the children's aunt, Cindy Tresler of Pea Ridge.
"My brother (Jamie) has told me sometimes he doesn't really want to live. He has to, of course. He has no choice. Emotionally, they are both still very fragile," Tresler said.
Jamie has a son from another marriage, and they all spend a lot of time together. The parents also take comfort in being around other people's children. "I thought that might be hard for them for awhile," Tresler said.
Tresler is able to keep pictures of the children on her wall.
"At first, I didn't think I was going to make it through. I couldn't eat, couldn't sleep. But we keep on going. They are in our thoughts every day," Tresler said.
Easter is approaching, which makes things difficult because the last time she saw the family was during Easter, two days before the tragic fire.
"So right now is a rough time," she said.
More than a week ago, she brought five baskets with grass and eggs to the girls' resting place at Union Chapel Cemetery in Garfield.
"I want them to know that I'm thinking about them, and that I miss them so much," she said.
Union Chapel Cemetery
Created by: Freda
Record added: Mar 28, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 25582787