Piper Blakney, 11, was rescued from her home after it went up in flames in the early morning hours of Saturday. She had been searching for her twin brother Cyrus at the time.
Piper Blakney, 11, was rescued from her home after it went up in flames in the early morning hours of Saturday.
She had been searching for her twin brother Cyrus at the time, who was also rescued from the home according to the Gastonia Regional Response Team.
Cyrus died soon after on the scene according to the Gaston County Police, who said that the boy's death was caused by "the injuries sustained at the hands of his father."
His father is 48-year-old Russell Blakney, the man suspected of starting the fire that destroyed his house and took his life.
The Gaston County Sheriff’s Office and Gastonia Regional Response Team had been on the scene for hours before the fire trying to serve Blakney with "an involuntary mental commitment and a 50B domestic violence protection order."
At the same time, the Gaston County Police Department obtained criminal warrants to arrest Blakney for "false Imprisonment, assault by pointing a gun, and possession of a firearm by a felon."
Those attempts all failed however, and Blakney remained inside the home with his children.
"Negotiators made contact in an attempt to persuade Mr. Blakney to surrender. Two children were present in the home during these negotiations. Extensive negotiations continued throughout the evening into the morning hours," said the Gastonia Regional Response Team. "At approximately 3:37 a.m., the house ignited into flames. The Regional Response Team members made forced entry into the residence, where both children were removed."
Blakney had previously been charged with domestic violence and kidnapping charges in Wisconsin back in 2015. The victim in that case was a woman with two children who is not identified in court records.
Public records do show that Russell and his wife Rachael lived together at the same address in Wisconsin at the time.
Blakney ultimately agreed to a plea deal that put him in jail for a year and also included a lengthy probation period, which he successfully completed in 2021.
Details are still coming together about the tragedy and a GoFundMe has been created to help Piper and her mother.