One baby to bring home and two to bury: Joy of childbirth turns to grief after West Baltimore fire

Guy Wilson, the father of the toddlers killed in a house fire last Friday in Sandtown-Winchester, talks about his children. (Amy Davis, Baltimore Sun video)

As Keyona Weaver lay in a hospital bed recovering from childbirth, her home burned.

The flames crept through the West Baltimore rowhouse last Friday and poisonous black smoke filled the bedroom upstairs where her two toddlers slept. They went into cardiac arrest, firefighters said, and died at the hospital.


Weaver had one baby to bring home. And two to bury: Jaliyah and Kameron Wilson, ages 2 and 1.

“It’s too much,” the mother said. “This was supposed to be the happiest moment of my life.”


Thursday evening, Weaver and the children’s father, Guy Wilson, stood outside the room in a West Baltimore funeral home where Jaliyah and Kameron lay in doll-sized caskets, side by side. Family and friends gave the parents hugs and offered condolences as a woman played a harp in the lobby.

Weaver’s ordeal began last week when her stomach cramps worsened. She left her toddlers home with her family and rushed to the University of Maryland Medical Center. The 30-year-old mother wasn’t due until April, but her blood pressure spiked and her baby’s plunged. The doctors hurried her in for an emergency C-section.

Keyona Weaver holds her daughter Jaliyah Wilson, 2, who died in a fire last Friday.
Keyona Weaver holds her daughter Jaliyah Wilson, 2, who died in a fire last Friday. (Keyona Weaver)

Weaver works at Amazon’s Southeast Baltimore fulfillment center. Wilson, 31, works for the Motor Vehicle Administration. The couple of several years had the two children.Then last week their third child was born, a boy. Isaiah Wilson arrived at 28 weeks, and just 2.5 pounds.

The doctors put the baby on blood pressure medicine and sedatives, Weaver said. The boy breathed his first hours by ventilator. Wilson came by after work, and they visited their tiny son. One worrisome day passed by.


In the brick rowhouse on North Mount Street in Sandtown-Winchester where four generations of the Weaver family lived, a woman across the street noticed dark smoke rising from the second floor. The heat shattered the glass. The toddlers’ aunt, Shantell Weaver, appeared in the window: “Help! Help!”

The firefighters were coming. Two miles away in the hospital, Wilson and Weaver visited Isaiah when the cellphone rang.

“I heard the kids were on their way to the hospital,” Weaver said. “That’s all I knew. I’m thinking everybody’s OK.”

Wilson pushed her wheelchair through the hall. They hurried down to the pediatric emergency room. In the crush of emotions, the parents forgot who told them, they just remember the words: “I’m sorry. They didn’t make it.”

Keyona Weaver, the mother of the 1-year-old and 2-year-old killed in a West Baltimore house fire last week, stood in the cold with a crowd of mourners at a candlelight vigil for the toddlers on Tuesday night.

The father demanded to see his children, he said, but wasn’t permitted. The next days would bring him few answers. He can’t sleep, and his confusion and disbelief have turned to frustration.

Firefighters continue to investigate the cause of the fire. Officials declined to comment.

Weaver and Wilson, however, suspect a space heater started the blaze.

“The way I’m hearing it, it was the heater,” she said. “My sister says they were trapped. They couldn’t get to them.”

Wilson said, “We still don’t know what happened. How did the heater cause the bedroom to catch fire?”

“I got a lot of anger,” he said. “I’m getting different stories. I’m lost. We’re really lost.”

The fire was another winter tragedy involving Baltimore children. Often house fires happen in deep cold.

In North Baltimore last month, the young sisters Layla and Amani Mullen died with their mother in a house fire. One year ago in Northeast Baltimore, six of the nine Malone children died when their home became an inferno. Twenty-eight people died in fires in 2017, the most deaths in at least five years. Nine of them were children.

Isaiah Wilson was born at 28 weeks, weighing just 2.5 pounds. He has begun to breathe on his own.
Isaiah Wilson was born at 28 weeks, weighing just 2.5 pounds. He has begun to breathe on his own. (Courtesy of Keyona Weaver)

On Tuesday, Weaver stepped beneath the burned-out windows of her home for the candlelight vigil. Still sore from surgery, she staggered: “Can someone help me?”

Then Wednesday, the toddlers’ great-aunt, Michelle Davis, went to the funeral home to do Jaliyah’s hair. Davis cried and tucked away a keepsake brown lock.

At the viewing Thursday, the toddlers matched in the blue and pink outfits Davis brought them. Jaliyah wore new kitty cat earrings. Family members gathered and cried before the caskets.

Guy Wilson holding his 1-year-old son Kameron Wilson, who died in a West Baltimore fire last friday.
Guy Wilson holding his 1-year-old son Kameron Wilson, who died in a West Baltimore fire last friday. (Keyona Weave)

Weaver remembers how Jaliyah would burst into her mother’s bedroom and clap her on the cheek. “Wake up, Mommy!” Her painting from last year hangs on the wall in Wilson’s apartment in Pikesville. The girl painted an ocean with green fish, biting hooks. She wrote, “I’m hooked on Daddy.”

Then there was Kameron: chubby and a hint of smile on his face as he lay in one of their favorite photos. His blue T-shirt with a caped giraffe boasted “Super Hero.”

Their friends and family donated at least $1,000 online to help. Through it all, Weaver ached from the delivery. “Sit down,” Wilson urged her. “You have to rest.”

The rituals of mourning have gone on even as their newborn son gained weight — at least 3 ounces. His blood pressure stabilized.

Wilson and Weaver plan to bury their other two children Friday at Woodlawn Cemetery.

Downtown in the hospital, their baby boy has begun breathing on his own.

Baltimore fire officials say two children were killed in a fire Friday evening in the city.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun