The father of two toddlers who were found dead inside their Atlanta home last week says he learned that something terrible had happened to his sons when the boys’ mother contacted him through a video call and showed their bodies lying on the floor.
‘It was like a real horror movie. It was Friday the 13th,’ said Jameel Penn. ‘When I saw my kid, how I saw my kid, that’s when I knew what was going on.’
Lamora Williams, 24, was arrested on Friday night and charged with two counts of murder in the deaths of one-year-old Ja’Karter Penn and two-year-old Ke’Yaunte Penn.
Atlanta police said in a statement the preliminary investigation found burn marks, possibly from a stove, on the young victims.
An autopsy was planned to determine the cause of the boys’ deaths. Police removed the stove from the family’s apartment.
‘I ain’t got no soul no more,’ Penn, the boys’ father, tearfully told WSB-TV during a vigil with friends and family Saturday night. He said the slain brothers were ‘my world, my everything. I’m lost’.
Williams told police she found her sons dead after she had left them with a caregiver all day Friday.
Atlanta police spokesman John Chafee said investigators, after interviewing witnesses and examining evidence, don’t believe she left them with anyone.
Penn told WXIA-TV he was separated from his children’s mother and he would see the boys on weekends.
He said Williams called Friday night ‘and she is like, they’re dead. And I’m like, who’s dead?’
A few moments later, Williams initiated a video call with Penn and panned her cellphone camera across the room, revealing a gruesome scene inside her apartment.
‘Every time I close my eyes from now on, that is what I’m going to see,’ Penn said, declining to describe exactly what he witnessed.
Penn said the last time he saw his two toddlers alive was last month.
Williams and Penn also have a 3-year-old son, Jameel Penn Jr, who was found unharmed in the mother’s apartment. According to police, the surviving child allegedly saw his mother kill his two younger siblings.
Williams also has a 6-year-old daughter from another relationship. The girl was staying with other relatives on Friday and did not witness her half-brothers’ deaths.
Penn was the second person to get a call from Lamora Williams Friday night. The first was her longtime friend Neesa Smith.
Speaking to Atlanta Journal Constitution, Smith recalled that Williams told her, ‘ I can’t do it no more,’ then revealed that her boys were dead.
‘I said, “Call the police, Mora. Just call the police.’
Smith said her friend was going through a hard time and was forced to quit her job a month ago because she could not find a baby sitter for her children.
Williams’ older sister, Tabitha Hollingsworth, said she had struggled with undiagnozed mental illness from the time she was a young girl. Their mother, Breanda, had tried to get her help, but Hollingsworth said no one listened to her pleas.
‘Teachers would say something was wrong, but the state said nothing was wrong,’ Hollingsworth said. ‘This is something the state didn’t recognize. The whole state really failed us.’
The mother-of-four alleges she left her home at noon and returned around 11pm Friday to find the two boys dead.
She told police she left all three of her sons in the care of her cousin.
However, neighbors dispute Williams’ story claiming she had left the children home alone before.
‘She don’t ever have anybody here with these children,’ the neighbor said.
Police found the boys around 11.30pm when they responded to a person injured call.
Neighbors said the apartment ‘smelled like death’. Investigators said the smell indicates the bodies may have been inside for a few days.
Williams was scheduled to make her initial court appearance on Monday. Her mother said she visited her in the Fulton County Jail and asked officials to put the 24-year-old on a suicide watch.