GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — The day after police arrested the mother of one of two small children who were killed in a fire in Greensboro earlier this year, officers made another arrest.
Police arrested Noelle Marie Cervantes, 33, on Tuesday. She was charged with two counts of second-degree murder and two counts of child abuse inflicting serious injury. Cervantes’s bond is listed as $1 million.
On Wednesday, police arrested Michael Christopher Dennis, 36, on two counts of felony child abuse. Dennis received a $1 million bond.
Cervantes’s young son Cash Whitaker, 3, was killed along with 2-year-old Landon Dennis in a house fire on Glenside Drive in Greensboro on March 16. Both of the children are listed as victims in the warrants.
Cervantes was critically injured in the fire, according to reports from fire officials at the time. The two boys who died were described as best friends and “balls of joy.
Police confirmed that the boys did die in the fire. They were found in a room across from where the fire started, according to court records.
Investigators have not released official reports about what caused the fire, but Greensboro police say that they do not believe Cervantes caused the fire.
Reports indicate that police had been called to Glenside Drive 12 times, mostly for custody issues and domestic disputes.
Firefighters say they received a report of a residential structure fire with two children inside at 11:30 a.m. on March 16. Crews arrived at 11:35 a.m. at found heavy flames at the home.
A person who was outside the home told firefighters that there were two children still inside the home, and firefighters went inside hoping to rescue them. They pulled the children out of the flames and released the children to the care of Guilford County EMS. EMS confirmed that both of the children died as a result of the fire.
Cervantes, who was critically injured in the fire, was taken to a local hospital.
Firefighters put out the blaze at around 12 p.m. and remained on the scene remediating smoke and carbon monoxide levels so fire investigators could enter the home.
Investigators were not able to find any smoke detectors in the home.
It was determined in court on Wednesday that Cervantes was not in the home when it caught fire and tried to go inside.
The front door was boarded up, and the main entryway was a sliding glass door in the back of the home.
“There is also ring camera footage of her calling out to the children trying to get them to come to her,” a representative said.
When Cervantes entered, there was a wall of flames between Whitaker and Dennis.
Neighbors were in disbelief after the fire took the lives of the two young children.
Tysha Goodman, Whitaker’s cousin, said of her relative, “He brightened all of our days. He was a true bundle of joy.”
People living in the area say they often saw Whitaker playing outside with his dog, which also died in the fire.
“I cried,” said Bita McGill, who lives across the street. “My husband cried. We were like, ‘Please, please, just get the kids out.'”
Marilyn Moore witnessed the fire and says she remembers helping a woman outside of the home as the fire burned.
“She had no shirt on,” Moore said. “I asked her, ‘Did she need my shirt?’ And I gave her my shirt I had on top of this. I told her ‘I’m sorry,’ and she said, ‘Those are my babies.'”
Tunya Crawford, who lives in the area, came home for lunch to find thick black smoke covering the street. Video from a doorbell camera showed that at one point, it got so foggy, you can barely see.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Crawford said. “Then when I saw how bad and charred the house was … wow.”
Yolanda Clark, who lives a few doors down from where the fire happened, said, “I’m hurt … to know the babies were in there, and I just saw the babies yesterday.”
Dozens of people stopped by the home on March 18 to pay their respects. Many were emotional and wanted to know how they can help this family recover. They said it’s a tight-knit neighborhood, and they’re heartbroken.
Greensboro Fire’s Deputy Chief Dwayne Church told FOX8 the cause of the fire remains undetermined because investigators could not narrow down one specific hypothesis to pinpoint an exact cause.