HALTOM CITY, Texas — A woman whose three young daughters were seriously burned was arrested, and neighbors said the mother told a fire investigator she had doused the children with gasoline and set them on fire.
The oldest girl, just 7, screamed, "Why mommy? Why mommy? Why did you do this to me?" after she and her sisters were pulled out of their burning house Saturday, neighbor Kevin Lopez said Monday.
The woman, Alysha Green, 29, had no answer for the fire investigator, Lopez said.
"She was crying and saying `I'm sorry' and she didn't know why she did it," Lopez told The Associated Press.
The girls — ages 7, 5 and 3 — remained in the burn unit of a Dallas hospital Monday; their conditions were not released.
Green, 29, who also was burned and remained hospitalized, was arrested Saturday on three counts of causing serious bodily injury to a child, police said. Each count carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Greg Donihoo, who pulled the two oldest girls out of the smoke-filled house, said Green told authorities that she coaxed her daughters into the closet by saying they were playing a game. He also said he saw investigators remove a gas can from the house.
Police would not confirm neighbors' accounts of what happened or fire officials' earlier statements that Green put her daughters in a closet, poured gasoline on them and herself and set them on fire.
"It's part of an ongoing investigation, and we're not going to discuss specific details of what occurred," police Sgt. Terry Stayer said.
Lopez said that after hearing a commotion on Saturday just before noon, he looked toward the Greens' house a few doors down and saw the girls and their mother in the yard, screaming.
As another neighbor sprayed the kids with a hose, Lopez grabbed some wet towels and ran to the house, which he wrapped around the 7-year-old. Her youngest sister's hair and body were so badly burned that Lopez thought she was a little boy.
"I couldn't recognize them," Lopez said of the children.
The girls' father arrived a short time later, saying his wife must not have taken her medication and that he could not believe what had happened, Lopez said.
Adam Green, the father, could not be reached for comment Monday by phone or at his home. Police said they did not know whether Alysha Green had a lawyer.
In May, Child Protective Services investigated a complaint that the youngsters had witnessed domestic violence between the parents, but that claim could not be substantiated, said agency spokeswoman Marissa Gonzales.
Police in Haltom City, a Fort Worth suburb, had not been called to the Greens' house for criminal matters, but city officials had cited them for code violations, Stayer said.
On Monday, a row of balloons, teddy bears, flowers and candles lay in the front yard of the wood and tan brick house. Someone placed a sign that read, "Get well soon; we are praying for you" by a front window. A doll house, small purple plastic car, pink scooter and pink bicycle were by the front porch.
On a boarded side window, soot was visible on the window sill and a faint odor of smoke was in the air.
The alleged arson would be yet another high-profile case in which a Texas mother turned against her children.
In August in Flower Mound, Andrea Roberts shot her husband and 11- and 7-year-old children to death before killing herself. In May, Gilberta Estrada hanged herself and her four children in their Hudson Oaks mobile home. Only the 8-month-old survived.
Andrea Yates drowned her five children in the family's Houston bathtub in 2001. In 2003, Deanna Laney beat her two young sons to death and injured a third with stones in East Texas, and Lisa Ann Diaz drowned her two daughters in a Plano bathtub. Dena Schlosser fatally severed her 10-month-old daughter's arms with a kitchen knife in 2004.
All four of those women were found innocent by reason of insanity. Yates initially was convicted of capital murder, but that verdict was overturned on appeal.