Parents of Child who died in August Choudrant Fire arrested for Cruelty to a Juvenile

Local News

WEST MONROE, La. (KTVE/KARD) — Deputies with the Office of State Fire Marshal (SFM) have arrested the mother and father of a Choudrant child who died in an August house fire.

According to SFM, 32-year-old Jessica Lewis and 37-year-old Christopher Bell were booked into the Lincoln Parish Detention Center on one count each of Second Degree Cruelty to a Juvenile. They both also face an additional charge from another agency in connection to an unrelated case.

On August 31, 2020, a house fire occurred in the 700 block of Highway 821 in Choudrant. A 20-month-old boy died in the fire while his mother, Lewis, was severely burned and the father, Bell, escaped uninjured.

The case of that fire has still not been determined due to the inability to rule out a possible electrical malfunction.

The Cruelty charges come after evidence of abuse was discovered during the child’s autopsy. Following an investigation into the evidence of abuse, warrants were obtained for Lewis and Bell.

Both were taken into custody in New Mexico.

“This case continues to be a sad situation, “ said State Fire Marshal H. “Butch” Browning in a press release, “But it’s an example of how the work of our deputies often times goes beyond the basic fire investigation. While it’s heartbreaking to learn this child was mistreated before his tragic death in this fire, I am glad that our deputies continued their work to find him justice.”

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