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Prosecutor: Flint mother out searching for drugs while children died in house fire

Mother, another man face list of charges including felony murder

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FLINT, Mich. – Multiple felony charges have been filed against a Flint mother and a man after three children died in a house fire last week.

According to Geneese County Prosecutor's Office, 39-year-old Erica Starkey, the mother of two of the children, was walking on the street around 3 a.m. June 10 when she was approached by a man who was returning home from a local bar.

Investigations into the incident reveal that the man, 40-year-old Rodney Dale King Jr., and Starkey went to Starkey’s home located at 643 Vermilya Street to smoke crack-cocaine together.

Police say Starkey left the house around 5 a.m. to search for more drugs, leaving King with the children.

King fell asleep and woke up to find Starkey had not yet returned to the house. Angered that Starkey was not at the house, King began to set furniture on fire.

The children, 13-year-old Onyah Starkey and her friend, 14-year old Brianna Beaushaw, were inside the home at the time. Also inside the home was 4-year-old Kayden Hull. 

Starkey is the mother of both Onyah and Kayden.

Police arrived on the scene around 6:14 a.m. after they received a 911 call about smoke coming from the house. Once they arrived, police said they found Onyah and her 4-year-old brother dead and 14-year-old Brianna Beashaw clinging to life. Beashaw was transported to Hurley Medical Center where she died two days later.

Police say the room which belonged to 4-year-old Kayden had a padlock and the child was unable to escape.

It is a very difficult case to review given the ages and manner of death of the victims. We will be doing all we can to see that justice is served," said Prosecutor David Leyton.

Starkey has been charged with:

  • One count of felony murder
  • Two counts of second degree murder
  • Three counts of second degree child abuse
  • Three counts of unlawful imprisonment
  • Two counts of killing/torturing animals

King is charged with three counts of felony murder and one count of first degree arson.

Both face the possibility of life in prison without parole. They are expected to be arraigned Tuesday,