8/30/2014

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Left for dead: Revisiting mom who jumped to safety, left kids behind

Left for dead: Revisiting mom who jumped to safety, left kids behind

OAK GROVE, Ore. – From the beginning, it was difficult to grasp how it could happen.

A mother, leaving behind her two sons when she jumped from a burning apartment.

And she didn’t just jump from the apartment – she jumped from the same bedroom where the two boys were found dead, choked by smoke.

How does that happen?

KATU’s Anna Canzano combed through 1,800 pages of investigative documents and realized the police were asking themselves the same question.

“Both kids are already half charcoal”

In February 2011, Kimberly Hasty dropped her youngest son, Wani, out the window to a man named Jeff Bryant.

Then she jumped herself.

“I just looked up to my right and there was a baby hanging and - tunnel vision - I need to catch that baby,” Bryant said.

Micah Taulbee, a friend of Bryant’s, held Wani until paramedics arrived, and later told investigators Hasty seemed more concerned with her own injuries than with the baby’s.

"It struck me as odd, she didn't ask to see her child at all,” Taulbee told investigators.

The detectives clarified: "The baby or the other two?"

Taubee replied: "The baby I was holding. I was two feet away from her."

Hasty’s apparent disregard for her son continued at the hospital, where an investigator quotes her talking with the boys’ father about their burial options.

"I told him cremation was cheaper,” she said, according to investigation documents. “Besides, both kids are already half charcoal anyhow.”

Staff at the Oregon Burn Center also observed that Hasty was more concerned with her ability to keep using her laptop than she was with Wani’s care.

She was using the laptop for things like lamenting the loss of the medical marijuana vaporizer she lost in the fire, investigators said.

A house filled with feces

It turns out questions about Hasty’s parenting didn’t start at the hospital. Investigators from Oregon traveled to Utah, where Hasty used to live.

Documents reveal that she talked with people who remember her “having the kids strip naked and line up on the fencing and she would hose them down with the hose to wash them off."

A Utah caseworker who visited their home saw broken glass and human feces throughout. Hasty soon after lost custody of the boys.

Asked why she thought her kids had been taken, Hasty replied "the property was hazardous." 

The caseworker told investigators Hasty didn’t seem to care that children had been taken away. She also said she did everything in her power to keep Hasty from getting them back, fearing for their safety because of the chronic neglect she saw.

Hasty decided to move to Oregon, and told the judge she’d be living with her sister. That’s when the children were returned to her.

But Hasty was soon on her own, living with her children in the Oak Park apartment where things eventually went horribly wrong.

“I heard him whisper, ‘Mom’”

According to investigators, neighbors described loud scenes at the apartment, with Hasty "screaming very loudly at her children saying things like, "shut the f---ing door" or "don't f---ing open that ... at all hours of the day." 

None of the Hasty children was potty trained – including 5-year-old Apollo. It was common for them to wake up before Hasty and raid the refrigerator and shelves for food.

In fact, Hasty said Apollo woke up early the morning of the fire, which ended up saving her life.

"I heard him whisper, ‘Mom,’” she said. “That's what woke me up. Not a fire alarm. My son whispering my name.”

She told investigators she ran out to the living room to find her front door was blocked by fire.

She followed Apollo back to the bedroom, where the other children were awake and crying.

Hasty told investigators she dropped Wani out the window, then reached back once more for the other children.

She said they weren’t making noise, so she jumped.

“It’s cold in here”

So, just how did the fire start?

Hasty first told an ATF agent she guessed it was a baseboard heater that was next to her couch, then later said it might have been her oldest son playing with a lighter or matches. She said she’d gotten rid of her lighters a year prior after he got ahold of one and lit it.

Investigators ruled out the heater as a possible cause, and determined the futon couch was the first thing to burn. They said the fire began with an open flame and found a green Bic lighter on a desk in the living room.

They turned their evidence over to a prosecutor, who determined no charges would be filed.

During an interview with investigators, the following exchange happened:

Hasty: “What happens if my son started it with a lighter? Because he knows how to light things … I just don’t want anything bad to happen, you know?”

Investigator: “I don’t know what worse could happen then what has."

Wani was taken from Hasty's custody shortly after the fire. A few months later, she was granted supervised visits with him.

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