McMINNVILLE, Tenn. - The parents of two young girls killed in an apartment fire last month in McMinnville have been charged in their deaths.
A grand jury indicted 28-year-old Mitchell Carl Stone and 22-year-old Rose Ann Stone on first-degree murder and aggravated child neglect charges Tuesday.
Three-year-old Kayndace and one-year-old Keely died in the May 13 fire in the family's home in the Asbury Park Apartments on Vinewood Road.
Mitchell Stone's father, Robert Stone, told News 2 his family is in disbelief over the charges.
"It's killing me," said Vicki Stone, the suspect's mother-in-law. "It hurt me when I found out they arrested him."
For police investigators, it's been a tough couple of weeks.
"I've been in this work roughly 23 years," McMinnville Police Captain Derwin Adcock told News 2, "and it doesn't really get any easier, dealing with cases like this."
He said as detectives investigated the early morning fire further, the case against Mitchell and Rose Stone shaped up quickly.
"Based on the other information we were getting and what they were saying, things didn't add up," he continued.
Officials said at first, the couple said they were inside the apartment when the fire broke out but weren't able to get to their children.
Police now say that is not what happened.
"We found that the parents had left the children there alone, they were alone during the fire," Captain Adcock said. "I try not to imagine. It's really hard to imagine what they were thinking and what they went through."
Robert Stone said his son is not a murderer but a grief-stricken father, still trying to cope with the loss of his daughters.
Fire officials said a hot plate left on in the kitchen may have sparked the blaze.