A Mystery Surrounds Deadly Fire In Detroit

There are a lot of things Rita Price doesn't know about Monday morning.


There are a lot of things Rita Price doesn't know about Monday morning.

She doesn't know how a bowling ball flew through a window of her family's house in the 12000 block of Washburn Avenue in Detroit and landed in the basement.

And she doesn't know what started the fire that killed her daughter, 26-year-old Mystanika Robinson.

But there is one thing Price does know: Six of her grandchildren will go to sleep tonight without their mother.

Detroit Fire Lt. Kwaku Atara said the blaze that charred half of the red brick and wood house was caused by careless smoking.

According to Price, 10-year-old Christopher, Robinson's oldest son, woke up about 5:30 a.m. after he heard a crash and smelled smoke. The boy was sleeping in bed with his mother and two of his siblings. He couldn't wake his mother, but did wake his siblings and his grandmother.

The house has two smoke detectors, Atara said, but neither of them worked.

Price said she went into her daughter's burning room to try to save her. When she tugged at her daughter's leg, Robinson didn't move.

"I tried to save my daughter, but she was already engulfed in flames," Price said, adding that she received burns on her right hand from the effort.

Eight people lived in the house in northwest Detroit: Robinson, her six children, ages 11 months to 10 years, and Price, 46.

Price said she doesn't believe the fire was an accident.

Price pointed to a basement window she said was broken with a bowling ball and a purse she said was taken from her daughter's room, its contents strewn across the backyard.

"Whoever did it came through that window, did what they had to do and went out the back door," she said.

But Atara said investigators found no reason to suspect foul play.

"The arson dog was brought out to see if there were any flammable liquids used," he said. "There were no flammable liquids."