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One mother reaches out for another in a time of grief

Updated: Thursday, March 7 2013, 07:04 AM EST
One mother reaches out for another in a time of grief  story image
WEST MICHIGAN (NEWSCHANNEL 3) – Tonight, one mother is offering advice to another after both lost their children in tragic fires.

Janeen Johnson is still waiting for police to arrest the person responsible for burning down her house in Battle Creek with her three kids still inside. Johnson’s eight-year-old daughter never made it out.

Now, Johnson is telling Newschannel 3 that she is hoping to meet with Jonetta Woods, whose three children died in a house fire at Interfaith Homes in Kalamazoo.

Janeen Johnson says she stops by her old house every so often, kind of cleaning up the stuffed animals and putting things in order. That house is the last place her daughter was still alive. Fire ripped through the home in November of 2012, killing young Karinna Johnson.

Now, Johnson is reaching out to another woman, mother to mother.

“It’s just sad, it’s really sad, and it just intensifies my pain too, even more,” said Johnson.

Two fires, three months apart, leaving four children dead and two mothers searching for answers. Johnson said that her heart immediately sunk on hearing the news of the fire at Interfaith in Kalamazoo. She says she didn’t know what to do, but she knew she needed to reach out, knowing what it feels like to not want to take another breath.

“What if I do have to live 40, 50 more years without her, just to this point has been unbearable, so how do I look forward to being 70,” said Johnson. “So I know that’s something that’s on her mind.”

Johnson’s eight-year-old daughter Karinna was killed during a fire that was ruled arson in November in Battle Creek, her 12-year-old sister and 15-year-old brother Devin made it out safely with the help of a stranger, still no suspect has been arrested.

“Even if there’s something negative on her behalf, you still need a shoulder to cry on,” said Johnson. “You’re not perfect and you need someone to say you’re not in this boat alone.”

The investigation surrounding Jonetta Woods, her boyfriend and the fatal fire in Kalamazoo continues. Her three children died in the fire after police say they were left alone inside their apartment.

Johnson says she suspects regret is the biggest issue Woods is dealing with, just like she did, constantly wondering what she could have done differently.

“It eats at you day in and day out and it’s a constant fight, a constant battle,” said Johnson, “but I would let her know pray, scream, shout, do whatever you need to do.”

As for Johnson, police are still actively working on the case. They sent evidence to the state police lab and are waiting for results.

One mother reaches out for another in a time of grief
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