Sioux Falls mom in fatal fire charged with child abuse
The mother of three children that died in a house fire last December has been indicted on six counts of causing or contributing to the abuse or neglect of a child.
Rhiannon White's three children Michael Hensley, 16, Savannah Coon, 13, and Alivia Coon, 6, were killed in a fire on December 22 at their home at 1100 North Main Avenue in Sioux Falls. White was arrested in January for two counts of knowingly possessing a controlled drug or substance.
White was indicted on those charges and the child abuse charges on March 6, 2013.
White is now being charged with eight crimes that came to light after her three children died in the December fire. The drug charges allege White had methamphetamine and ecstasy in her system sometime December 20 to December 22, 2012. The other six charges suspect White lacked proper parental care during the days of December 17 to December 22.
At 7:58 am December 22, Sioux Falls police responded to the fire at 1100 North Main Avenue in Sioux Falls. Upon arriving, officers say the two story house was filling with smoke, flames were visible through the first floor windows and officers were initially told that there were three children inside the residence on the second floor.
Police and firefighters attempted to force their way through a locked back to door to rescue the children but they were unsuccessful. The kids, Michael Hensley, 16, Savannah Coon, 13, and Alivia Coon, 6, were found dead in second floor bedrooms of the home.
Rhiannon and her husband David were in the home as well. They left the house through a second story window.
Rhiannon was interviewed at the Detective Division, where she presented officers a document she obtained from her medical provider. The document showed there were narcotics in her system at the time of the fire that she could not account for, specifically methamphetamine and ecstasy.
According to and Affidavit for Arrest, during the course of the interview the defendant stated the last time she used meth was 14 years ago. However, Rhiannon then corrected herself to say the last time she used meth was back in 2009.
Rhiannon's sister, Shannon Coon, told police she received a text message from Rhiannon just hours before the fire that Rhiannon stopped at her "drug dealers" house after leaving a bar and before arriving home on Dec. 22.
Rhiannon was interviewed again at the Detective Division. This time, she said she did use meth two days prior to the fire and said she went to a hotel on North Cliff Avenue with a friend where she ingested methamphetamine. She also told police she drove while on the influence of meth.
Rhiannon told detectives she used meth because she was "so tired and run down and exhausted." She also said, "I take a couple of puffs and I was fine. I was superwoman. I could take care of the kids."
Rhiannon told police she did not recall consuming ecstasy.
The Minnehaha County State's Attorney obtained a court order for medical records of Rhiannon's emergency room visit on Dec. 22. A urine test of indicated that Rhiannon tested positive for amphetamines, ecstasy or MDMA and marijuana, as well as methamphetamine.