Rockford City Council members took a moment of silence Monday night, for the the four people killed in a house fire over the weekend.
Investigators say 27-year-old Keandrea Austin and her three children — 9-year-old V’Angelo Totty, 6-year-old Keeryn Austin, and six-month-old Aliya Beasley-Austin — were killed. A makeshift memorial of teddy bears and candles now sits in front of the home, letting people know the loss will not be forgotten.
Police and firefighters say they all died as a result of foul play; their home intentionally set on fire. Firefighters were unable to get inside the home until the fire had burned out., but eventually discovered all four victims in the same room.
“Currently the matter is being investigated as a homicide,” said Mayor Larry Morrissey.
The mayor took a moment to remember the family, comparing the incident to the 2011 murder of Natasha Cleary and her two young sons — who were shot to death and then burned inside their home.
“The Cleary family a few years back…lost two children and a mom in frighteningly similar, it seems, circumstances,” he said.
Morrissey also thanked the first responders who had to witness what he says he can only imagine was a horrific scene.
“I just want to again share, as Alderman Hervey said, support for all of our first responders, and the incredible job that they’re doing, literally working around the clock to try to help solve this horrific tragedy,” he said.