Grandmother indicted for arson that killed 2 granddaughters
TIPTON COUNTY, TN (WMC) - A Covington grandmother was indicted for setting fire to a building and killing her young granddaughters, according to Tipton County Sheriff's Office.
The fire happened in 1700 block of Shoaf Street near Smith Avenue around 3 a.m. on April 1.
Firefighters arrived at the home to battle the blaze, and were told the two girls were trapped inside.
The two girls, 6-month-old Ameya and 1-year-old Jaleah, were taken to Baptist Tipton hospital where they later died from their injuries.
The girls' mother, Jessica Cunningham, said she wasn't home at the time of the fire. She said she saw the flames and rushed home to try and save her girls.
Cuningham said she believed the fire was sparked on purpose.
"You know your grandkids are in there. You didn't tell the police, the ambulance, or nobody," Cuningham said, questioning her mother's actions.
Linda Dunavant is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated arson, two counts of aggravated child neglect, and aggravated assault.
"It's pretty shocking, but I feel like she's kind of responsible for it and all you know," neighbor James Taylor said. "They were left with her, they was [sic] in her care. So I feel she was kind of responsible."
Dunavant did suffer burns from the fire and was airlifted to Regional Medical Center.
Taylor remembers seeing the children the day before the fire.
"It's kind of hurting me when children get burnt up like that," Taylor said.
Linda Dunavant was also indicted in a separate case involving the father of her granddaughters. In 2014, Dunavant told police he sprayed her with charcoal fluid mixed with Kool-Aid. He was arrested, but investigators later said it was Dunavant who sprayed the mixture.
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