Parents out on drug deal when tot died: Warrant
Darcy Wintonyk, ctvbc.ca
Published Friday, May 13, 2011 7:22PM PDT
The parents of a toddler who died during a house fire near Hope, B.C. earlier this month had left him alone at home to do a drug deal, according to neighbours who gave a statement to police.
Dillon Walker, 18 months old, was found dead in his crib after a fire ripped through his family home in Silver Creek, just west of Hope, in the early hours of May 5.
His parents, Anthony Walker and Adrienne Haslam-Tatti, told police they had gone for a quick walk and returned home to find their home engulfed in flames, with young Dillion inside.
Both Haslam-Tatti and Walker are now being investigated for criminal negligence causing death, failure to provide necessities and child abandonment, according to a search warrant obtained by CTV News.
Police and fire crews descended on the rural home at 1:43 a.m., nine minutes after receiving three 911 calls about a fire in an upper suite of the fourplex.
The search warrant says the tot's parents arrived at the home at approximately 2:05 a.m., and initially refused to give their names to police.
"Both Walker and Haslam-Tatti were yelling and screaming that their baby was inside and did someone get their baby out. Walker was extremely aggressive and angry during the entire ordeal," an investigating officer wrote.
The couple told police they had gone for a short walk and left their baby alone sleeping in the second bedroom.
While the parents told police they had only left the home for 10 to 15 minutes, police say based on the timeline of the 911 calls they were actually gone for at least 29 minutes.
Walker told police their natural gas had been shut down two days earlier so they had been heating the home using an oil heater, two other small heaters and the oven.
An officer at the scene testified hearing Walker yell: "We just went for a walk. Our gas was shut off. We use the stove for heat."
Neighbours who wanted to stay anonymous told investigators that Walker "dealt numerous kinds of illegal drugs to people in the community," and the couple was not at home when the fire started because they went out to make a sale.
Justin Stevens, who lives in the unit below, told police he was brushing his teeth when he smelled smoke. After searching his own home he went outside to see an orange glow coming from inside his neighbour's suite on the second level.
According to the warrant, Stevens kicked the door down and could see fire coming from the oven. After unsuccessfully trying to put the fire out with water, he ran from room-to-room to see if anyone was there.
He searched the living room and first bedroom, but couldn't get into the bedroom where Dillion was sleeping because of the thick smoke.
In an audio transcription included in the warrant, a firefighter described finding the body of a young child face down on a single or double mattress. The dead toddler "appeared charred but not down to the bone."
Police said the firefighter believed the boy had no signs of life.
"He did not check the child's pulse but it was not crying or moving. The injury was severe enough; no one could have survived. He was certain the child was dead."
After police told the parents that Dillion had died, they were "hysterical and upset," and left to stay with friends.
The body of Dillion was taken to the Royal Columbian Hospital morgue for an autopsy.
The RCMP Serious Crime section has taken over the criminal investigation.