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Police: Mo. fire claiming mom, 4 kids was murder-suicide

Authorities said Bernadine Pruessner left a note before setting fire to a mattress inside her Ferguson home

Missouri Fire-Family Killed

Firefighters pick up their equipment after they extinguished a fire in a home on Monday, Feb. 19, 2024 in Ferguson, Mo. A mother and four children died early Monday as police say the fire is being investigated as “suspicious.”

David Carson/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP

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Associated Press

FERGUSON, Mo. — A fire that killed five members of a Missouri family was intentionally set by the mother, police said.

St. Louis County police announced late Wednesday that a preliminary investigation ruled that the deaths of Bernadine Pruessner, her twin 9-year-old daughters Ivy and Lillie Pruessner, and her children 5-year-old Jackson Spader and 2-year-old Millie Spader was a murder-suicide.

Police Sgt. Tracy Panus said in an email that investigators believe that Bernadine Pruessner, 39, set fire to a mattress. “A note was also left stating Bernadine’s intentions to take her life and the lives of her children,” Panus said.

Responding firefighters found the home in Ferguson engulfed in flames at 4:23 a.m. Monday. Neighbors had tried to save the family, but the fire was too intense.

PREVIOUSLY: Mother, 4 children killed in Mo. house fire