Father, Children Killed in Overnight Blaze

November 30, 2005 – Posted at 5:19 p.m. CST

BUTLER COUNTY, MO -- An early morning fire destroys a Region 8 home in Southeast Missouri, killing three people.

Family members say 44-year-old Scott Rathbun and his two children, 5-year-old Shiana Rathbun and 2-year-old Zander Rathbun were inside the home in rural Butler County.

Police officials say the blaze started around 12:40 Wednesday morning at a double-wide trailer on Butler County road 472...in the Lone Hill community, just east of the Ripley County line. They're calling the fire suspicious and the Butler County Major Case Squad is investigating.

"I hadn't gone to sleep yet and I heard someone holler, "help, help, help" three times, and I got up and looked out the window to see if I could see anybody," said neighbor Francis Smith.

A 9-1-1 call came in just after 1:00 a.m. Wednesday morning, but by the time fire fighters arrived, the home was engulfed in flames. Trapped inside, a father and his two young children. Police found their bodies together in a bedroom.

"Our family is taking it pretty hard, especially Felicia, the children's mother. She's taking it pretty hard," said Jessie Rudd, the children's great-grandfather.

The father, Scott Rathbun, had separated from the children's mother Felicia Rose the night before, and she had spent the night at a family member's home. While there isn't much left of the trailer they once lived in, the children's great grandfather says their memory will never fade.

"They were crazy about me, I was crazy about them," said Rudd softly. The Butler County Major Case Squad is investigating the fire, but has not determined the cause yet.

"There are some things in the investigation that we're concerned about," said Butler County Sheriff Mark Dobbs, "Some domestic situations that were going on prior to the house fire within the last few days. It's a concern of ours and we're waiting to make sure and look at everything its better safe than sorry."

Autopsies were scheduled for this afternoon at the Mineral Area Hospital in Farmington. No word on results at this time.