63 Lakeview Circle, Conway AR
CONWAY, Ark. (KTHV) -- The house fire in Faulkner County that killed a grandmother and granddaughter is ruled a murder-suicide.
Saturday, police and firefighters were called to a home around 6:30 a.m. at Lakeview Circle off Highway 365 between Mayflower and Conway. The victims are 64-year-old Janice Robbins and her granddaughter 7-year-old Abby Robbins.
Abby moved in with Janice after Abby's father died during the Iraq War years ago.
St. Joseph's School has counselors on hand to talk to students about what happened. The school is not speaking to the media at this time.
In the press conference, Maj. Andy Shock says Janice Robbins retired from the Army in 2005 and retired as a nurse from the VA in 2008.
When police arrived at the home, the only vehicle on the property, a truck, had an envelope taped to the door handle with the key inside. Police found a plastic tub in the truck with the suicide note from Janice and several personal items like insurance papers, her will, her purse, Abby's birth certificate and financial papers.
In the suicide note, Janice said among other things, "Can't stand to see Abby left behind" and "pray for my soul."
Maj. Shock says Janice was battling some kind of depression and was seeking counseling, but was unsure if she was actually getting any counseling. He also says Abby may have needed help dealing with the loss of her father.
Authorities say that both Janice and Abby were alive during the fire; smoke was found in their lungs. Abby was stabbed once in the right side of her chest, but it's unclear if that wound would have been fatal.
Police found a red gas can near Abby's body in the living room and a red gas can near Janice's body in the hallway.
Funeral arrangements have been left to Janice's sister who is also the executor of Janice's estate. The bodies will be sent to Poplar Bluff, Missouri.
Police say Janice was financially sound and even had CDs set aside for Abby. There had been no prior DHS issues and no prior abuse allegations. It is said that Janice was very loving with Abby.
After Abby's adoption with Janice became official in Sept. of 2010, Abby started calling her mother. Her biological mother lives out of state and police say they can't reach her.
"We saw nothing that looked like she was in depression or anything. She was just as happy as she could be, talking all the time and friendly," says neighbor, Herbert "Lucky" Page.
He says he and his wife met Janice Robbins, a retired VA nurse, when she moved to the neighborhood two months ago. He ran to the Robbin's home after seeing the fire Saturday from his porch.
"I pounded on all the doors, tried to get the door open to get in and I couldn't get in. I did everything I could, " says Page.
After Monday's news, Page says he knows he was already too late.
"All this we hear now totally surprises me so now I know, I didn't even need to go down there. It wouldn't have done any good to be down there," says Page.
The entire press conference from today is available above. Note: The audio level of the video is rather low.
In addition, we've provided still images from the scene of the fire. (http://on.kthv.com/w6kv9v)