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8 year old Dies Following Home Arson, Homicide Investigation Begins

Posted at 10:42 PM, Nov 30, 2012
and last updated 2012-11-30 23:23:51-05
BATTLE CREEK, Mich. -An 8-year-old girl from Battle Creek has died from injuries sustained in a house fire.  Police have ruled the fire an arson, and are offering a $5000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

Outside the Johnson’s home on Young Street are flowers and teddy bears, a memorial for Karrina Johnson who died Friday night at Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo.

Laci Johnson has been with Karrina’s father since Karrina was one year old.  She thinks of Karrina as her own child.

“She was outgoing, she was the most loving person in the world,” said Johnson.  “A warm welcoming smile that pulls you in.”

On 2:00am on Thursday, Karrina was at home with her brother and sister, 15-year-old Deven and 12-year-old Heaven when the fire started.

Police say the children’s mother, Janeen Johnson, was not home at the time of the fire.

Deven and Heaven were able to jump from the second story window to safety.  Firefighters found Karrina on the first floor, unconscious.  They were able to revive her on scene and she was taken the hospital.

Family members say she suffered brain damage and severe burns.

Friday evening, after family members were able to say goodbye, the decision was made to stop life support.

Laci Johsnon said they are now dealing with a harsh reality, “Never again will be able to see her walk through the door, give us hugs and kisses, tell her that we love her and watch her grow.”

The family has decided to donate Karrina’s organs.

“If she can help save someone’s life, that’s what she would want,” said Johnson.

The loss is magnified by the destruction of the family’s home.  We’re told the Johnson family did not have insurance.

Laci Johnson has set up a “Karrina Donation Fund” through Omni Community Credit Union.

You can donate at any branch by mentioning the Karrina Donation Fund.

Johnson said, “We set up a fund to help with the funeral costs and to help replace an entire house.”

Karrina leaves behind a loving family that includes her 8-year-old step brother Theodore who just lost a best friend.

“She was the greatest sister somebody could ever have,” he said.  “And I wish she could still be here.”

The family is also looking for justice for the arsonist.  Battle Creek police say they have interviewed a couple of people after learning that the victim’s mother, Janeen Johnson, got into a fight with two people prior to the fire being set.

Police say the mother’s ex-boyfriend Jesse Tatum is considered a person of interest.  He was arrested Thursday on an assault charge.  No arrest has been made in connection with the arson.