Father Allegedly Set Home On Fire And Killed His 3 Children While Mother Was At Work

Joseph Washington is accused of starting a blaze that killed his 5-year-old daughter and two sons, ages 8 and 3, in New Orleans.

Three children died this week in a house fire allegedly started by their father at his home in New Orleans.

Joseph Washington, 29, was taken into custody Wednesday and booked on charges linked to the deaths of the children — a 5-year-old girl and two boys, ages 8 and 3 — the New Orleans Police Department said at a press conference. According to court records, Washington was hit Thursday with three counts of first-degree murder, three counts of cruelty to juveniles and one count of aggravated arson. He is being held without bond.

On Tuesday, the children’s mother had dialed 911 around 11:55 p.m. According to a recording released by the Orleans Parish Communication District, she said that she was at work and had received a disturbing phone call from the home.

“He’s screaming, I heard the kids screaming, he’s screaming on the phone,” she told a dispatcher. “Y’all have to just break through the door before anything happens. Please.”

Joseph Washington's three children.
Joseph Washington's three children.

Authorities arrived to find the house engulfed in flames. Firefighters were able to pull the 5-year-old and 8-year-old from the home, but they died at a hospital an hour later.

The 3-year-old was recovered from the house and pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

According to authorities, Washington’s car was later found partially submerged in the Mississippi River. They added that Washington was taken into custody after he was seen on the highway attempting to jump off an overpass.

Police are still investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident, including the parents’ custody arrangement, but said that Washington had a history of domestic violence with the children’s mother.

According to court documents cited by Fox affiliate WVUE, the woman has previously said that Washington made several violent threats toward her. In 2018, he pushed her “against a wall and choked her,” and then choked her again while she was “holding their infant child,” the documents said.

A two-year protective order was granted to her, and their divorce was finalized in 2019, according to the outlet.

A GoFundMe campaign created by the woman’s sister described the children as “angels” and blamed their deaths on domestic violence.

“The children were murdered by their biological father. Everything my sister owned was lost in the the house fire,” she wrote. “Please donate to help lay my niece and nephews to rest and help my sister start a new beginning.”

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

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