NewsLocal NewsGrand Rapids

Actions

Husband charged in deaths of wife and children

Robert Scales accused of manslaughter in deadly Grand Rapids fire
Posted at 12:01 PM, Jun 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-19 00:16:14-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Months after a mother and her three children died as a result of a fire at their home, her husband is now facing charges in their deaths.

Police took Robert Scales into custody Thursday after the Kent County Prosecutor's Office authorized four counts of involuntary manslaughter against the 38-year-old. Each count is a felony, with a maximum prison sentence of 15 years.

Scales is accused of setting the fire at the family's home on February 5. His wife Wanedia and her 15-year-old son Xavier Woldeab died at the scene. 13-year-old Robert Scales Jr and 9-year-old Elijah Scales were rushed to the hospital but did not survive.

Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker weighed in on the charges Thursday. He says they could not prove Scales intended to kill his wife and children in the fire, which is why there are no murder charges.

“I think that would be some of the questions out there," Becker said. "We were fully aware of some of the comments that were made earlier in the relationship. We looked into everything, and we could not prove a murder case in this instance."

Becker also said the investigation was lengthy due to the fire and the amount of science involved in these types of cases.

“It has to be based on fact and what the law is," he said. "I think that’s what we’ve done in this case. I’m not trying to take a stand for anything or anybody. It’s what the law and the facts have shown us, that these are the appropriate charges."

Becker says they have reviewed other information, as well, including Scales' comments to media and police after the deaths of his family.

An investigation into court documents by FOX 17 News revealed a troubled history between Scales and his wife, Wanedia, including a request for a personal protection order she sought against him at one point.

Scales remains in the Kent County Jail, pending arraignment.