Orrick, Mo. father charged with child abandonment in deaths of sons trapped in house fire

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ORRICK, Mo. --  The father of two boys who died in a fire inside the family's trailer home in Orrick, Mo. in December is now charged with two counts of child abandoment.

Randy Garrison, 31, is being held at the Ray County Jail on $100,000 bond.

Two boys were killed in a fire in Orrick, Mo. on Tuesday morning, Dec 10.

Two boys were killed in a fire in Orrick, Mo. on Tuesday morning, Dec 10.

His sons, Roger Wayne, 3, and 21-month-old Ashton Michael were trapped inside the burning house in Orrick, which is about 35 miles northeast of Kansas City.

Police believe Garrison was not inside the trailer at the time of the fire; that he left them alone, although Garrison claimed he was there and tried to save them and suffered burns and injuries in the process.

In December Garrison told FOX 4 that  he returned home from a 24-hour shift around 6 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 10 and went straight to bed. He said he later woke to the sound of his sons screaming at about 11:30 a.m. He told FOX 4 that the boys' mother was not home.

"Woke up hearing them screaming at the top of their lungs," he said in December. "Flames in my bedroom and flames in the hallway, flames through the whole house."

Randy GarrisonGarrison said he first tried to bust through his bedroom wall but couldn't. That's when he says he ran into the hall and tripped. He said he tripped over a bungee cord or something that was holding the boys' door shut.

Garrison told police that a few days earlier Tamara Willis, the boys' mother, threatened to kill him and the boys. He claimed she left the house without telling anyone.

But Willis told police she woke up Garrison before she left the house to run errands.

On Thursday, in the probable cause statement outlining the charges against Garrison, police said the medical staff that treated Garrison did not see any burns on his face, hands or clothing. A nurse reported that Garrison, although he claimed to be in the smoke-filled house for some time, did not cough as she would expect from someone who inhaled so much smoke.

"I just knew from the very first that the story he told was not right. I'm glad the police discovered that also," said Marjorie Long, the children's grandmother.

Police also say Garrison's story doesn't add up because they believe the boys would not have been able to scream, as they were overcome with smoke. They also say in addition to no evidence of burns on his hands, feet or face, Garrison's white shirt was not soiled with soot, burns or smoke.

Earlier report from December 2013:

Earlier coverage:

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    • Marjorie

      for the umpteenth time the bedroom door was not tied shut cause there was no bedroom door, just a child’s safety gate, and the boys was found in the living room not the bedroom. THEY WERE NEVER IN THE BEDROOM THAT MORNING.

  • Betty

    Why was there a bungee cord holding their door shut? That seems odd right there. Someone shouldve been with them awake whether it be mother or father. Something seems fishy here. Those poor babies :(

    • Marjorie

      Betty, if you’d read the probable cause statement you’d realize that there was no bungee cord at all as there was no door on the boy’s bedroom, also the boys were found in the living room not bedroom so the what was going on with the bedroom door is moot since they were never in the bedroom.

      • InnocentChild

        The probable cause statement doesn’t support what you are saying. Just because you want it to be true, and you ran to the media with that bogus story, doesn’t mean it’s true.

        In fact, your daughter’s claims of having that appointment were actually dissolved in her own written statements in that PC statement. She woke up late, then rushed on over to the neighbor’s home, and ironic that the neighbor then suddenly showed up at that fire. Right….

        If I were you, I’d severely distance myself from your daughter right now. You really don’t want to be involved beyond running your mouth for 15 minutes of attention.

        Your kids are bad juju. You are bad juju. And you aren’t very credible here and neither are your kids. You never were.

        The apples didn’t fall far from their tree in life. :D

  • Raquel

    I really don’t think Randy should be held responsible. I don’t know him very well, but everyone close to him and himself all posted all over Facebook about how broken he was because of losing his children. Yeah I suppose child endangerment could be applicable, but honestly as a mother I wouldn’t have left my kids with the father asleep after a really really long shift. That itself should be been child endangerment on her part whether she woke him up or not. He was tired, the poor guy! He felt so bad he couldn’t save his children. I feel for him! That is horrible news that I’m sad to hear. Like, on top of this tragedy at hand, he has to be in County for it? I guess it makes sense legally but still.. I’m friends with him on Facebook and have witnessed how distraught he was. I hope the best for his family.

    • kaylen yeo

      As for the post about the mother leaving her children with their father after a long shift! Tell me as a mother would you bring your babies out if they were sick? Both boys had been up all night puking and running a fever! Thier mother left them home as she should have and was out making sure her boys had food when they woke up! So tell me mom of the year whatexactly you would have done or did you not know the facts about what your saying before you said it. Just like everyone else! How would you feel if someone were saying these things about you and your parenting?

      • Ashley

        I wont say she was wrong but for all us mothers out here lets learn from this an choose to call for help or yes take sick babies out in the cold b4 leaving them basically unattended a 4 year old yes but never a one year old .

      • melissa

        If it had been me, I would have tried to call someone to either come stay with my kids while I ran errands, or I would have asked someone to pick up some things for me. There is no way I would leave my children in the care of someone who had just come off a 24 hour shift.

      • Amy Templeman Douglas

        It is all very tragic and I feel so sorry for the entire family! But I can’t find it in my heart to blame this father any more for being disoriented when he work up in the middle of a blazing fire than I do the mother that left them alone in a house with a sleeping father. If they are going to charge him then they need to charge her as well! Personally I don’t think they should charge either of them, they have suffered enough!

        But, yes, I have taken sick children to the store with me when there father was sleeping, or called my mother to stay with them because they should not be left unattended. It is a judgment call, and everyone makes mistakes, and I am sure she regrets her decision every single day! God bless the entire family!

    • Marjorie

      he worked a 10 hour or 12 hour shift, never a 20 or 24 hour one, and he got home at 6am went straight to bed. the fire started around noon, 6 whole hours later. he has always said that he only sleeps 3 to 4 hours a night, which would have put the fire happening about 2 to 3 hours after he would have normally woken up. he phone records for the past year and half bear witness to the fact that he only slept 3 to 4 hours a night. just saying………………………………

      • InnocentChild

        Is that you scrappy doo? Come to save your daughter from herself? LOL. How’s that going with her current drug charges and stuff? :D

  • K.D.Fox

    why isnt the mother in jail for this . as well then?. she is just as responsible for the deaths of these two children as the PA is trying to pin on the dad .. It galls me that she very likely will get away with this murder of two little kids .

    • kaylen yeo

      The mother is innocent is why she is not in jail! Know your facts about this case before speaking on it! I am the cousin of the mother and have been there threw this whole case! There is several facts that all you people dont know about this horrible tragedy so please if you dont know the facts dont pass judgement!!

      • lisa

        Then Kaylen Yeo tells the ” facts” since it seems like you were there & want to speak in this. “Family” doesnt always tell the truth or everything when they are being under investigation. I wasnt there Web or friends w the family so Im not assuming anything. Please speak the facts…….

      • KD.Phillips

        yeh Tamaras drugs arent being talked about and neither is her past and how she neglected and abused her other kids..

      • KD.Phillips

        the facts are Tamera is a druggie and child abuser .. all public court records her past is enough to show she is a terrible person.. why would you defend some one like that ? .. btw where is she hiding now? and Marg is being pretty silent as well ..

      • Anonsmom

        Facts and details and history equal who you are as a parent. Your cousin has never been a good mother, that is why a court of law took her rights away from her over a decade ago. Being a self centered drug addict that can’t stay clean for the sake of their children is IMPORTANT in all of this. Drug addicts don’t care about anything but the next fix.

        I am so sick of hearing the excuse it’s because she’s bi-polar. I know bi-polar people that live health lives because they WANT to be good and stable for their families.

        Facts: She isn’t a good mother, good mothers don’t cycle between I’m gonna participate because I’m clean and oh forget it when I’m not.

      • InnocentChild

        She might not be going to jail for this, but rest assured your ‘cousin’ is going to do some long time for her crimes of this year. Which we are all hoping to finally see justice from her persistent and chronic drug abuse that has hurt more people than we all can imagine.

        Your cousin is a waste of space as a mother. Other people care for her children because she’s obviously, and according to her docket on her assault charges in casenet, can’t even pass a urinalysis.

        She’s a druggie pure and simple and never should be around children at all. Period dot. The End.

    • kaylen yeo

      I am the cousin of the mother! As far as i know that was never said by the father. He is a angry man but i can not say if he did or did not say that. My cousin has never told me said that and im pretty sure she would have told me something like that! However his story he orgi ally told the news and police are not at all accurate. There is plenty of evidence to proof of the lies in his story.

      • Anonsmom

        Your cousin is also an angry, unstable, drug addict that switches from nice to mean, crazy to sane, I want to be a mommy to I could give a freak less.

        She is no innocent angel and victim. And that bipolar excuse that her and your Auntie use all the time to try to get her out of trouble is getting old. Get mental help, stay CLEAN, and try to be a decent law abiding citizen if you want people to BELIEVE YOU.

        Tamara is NOT a law abiding, clean, decent human being. Sorry

    • kaylen yeo

      Sky you nothing about my cousin or her children or this case so until you actually know some facts keep your mouth shut cause i can bet your defiently no angel! You may know my cousins name or about her but you dont know her sp dont claim you do!

      • sky

        I know for a FACT that she has a boy and a girl who were taken away from her for being an unfit mother. Why did she go and have two more to let die???

      • InnocentChild

        Sky is telling the truth! Because one of those cast off children is now apart of MY family and being raised by a wonderful woman that loves him to pieces and provides him the mother he never had. Sad fact, that her son doesn’t remember her because of her criminal past and her being a neglectful and abusive mother. Drugs do that to you. Sorry.

      • Serving Tea

        I mean how many posts do you have to put “I am the cousin of the mother!”, my god stop replying and going off in a public forum. If you are grieving- this isnt the place to lash out. Ppl are always going to comment on the news- you can’t stop them. at. all. To keep saying you have been here thru the whole ordeal can’t be true then you would have a soot and smoke issue as well, pipe down. I see several ppl are busting out the mom as someone with quite a past. I don’t think anyone can do much judging on either side until evidence and facts are truly brought out. It all sounds fishy as all get out and I agree I smell foul play. As to which side I will wait to see what the court room has in store, as should everyone else. However I feel it should be both the mother and father on trial.

  • kaylen yeo

    Lisa~~ i tryed to reply to your indivual comment but it wont let me! So i hope you get this. I can not give out anymore info then i already have on myposts due to jepordizing the case! I can say the babies bodies were not in their room they were found on the couch. They do have a video of the father not at the house moments before the first 911 call. And the most important thing i can say is if your children were in a fire would you not fight to get them regardless of how many burns you get? I know i would. The father only had burnt hair no skin burns what so ever! He was not in the home he left the babies there alone while my cousin was out trying to get food for babies. The boys were sick which is why she left them at home with thier father. The father if he did try to save those sweet angels he didnt try very hard. Those are some facts for you i can enclose but trust there are many more. I hope this helps you and everyone else understand this case alil better! They are still investing the case and have more charges yet to come!

    • Amy Templeman Douglas

      Regarding the comment about how hard the father tried or didn’t try to get to his babies in the burning house, I know we would all like to think in that situation we would be able to get to our kids, but the fact is that in my hometown, two families have lost children in fires and even the firefighters in full gear couldn’t get to them!

      Just because he wasn’t able to save them doesn’t mean he didn’t try. Did anyone think that maybe he panicked and ran out without realizing what was going on. He was sound asleep Then maybe he couldn’t get back in to get the kids so he made up the story. That would explain the lack of soot and burns. That also doesn’t make him guilty of a crime. It makes him human. He didn’t want to be judged and thought badly of.

      I don’t know these people but I do know members of his family and I know how distraught he is over the loss of his children.

      • Amy Templeman Douglas


        Let me see if I can simplify this for you since you obviously didn’t get it before. I am not claiming to have any first hand knowledge of this incident, I am speaking in general.

        I am simply saying that no one can say for sure what they would be able to do if they awoke from a dead sleep to find their surroundings engulfed in flames! No one should be judged if they panic under those circumstances and no one can really say what Mr Garrison’s state of mind was, although it could have been no less than panic stricken.

        I also made the point that often in such events, even trained firefighters in full gear can not get to children trapped homes, sadly it has happened twice in my community over the years, and though it is tragic, it is not always criminal.

        From reading the Probable Cause Statement posted on here by BOBSKI and it seems my assumptions were correct. On page 11, in Randy Garrison’s own words, when ask why he had described the fire as larger than it appeared to have been Mr Garrison responded that he did this because that was how it seemed to him and explained that he had just woke up from a deep sleep. Also, when he was told there was no way the fire was as big as he reported and ask why he couldn’t get the kids out, he responded “I don’t know! Maybe I panicked, maybe I didn’t think! I don’t know! That thought has gone through my head every f**king day!” Garrison said that he panicked when he tripped over the bungee cord and just ran outside.

    • InnocentChild

      What would a responsible, non-neglectul, non-drug addicted mother do if their significant other was sleeping off a long shift and had two sick babies?

      A Mom would not leave babies sleeping on a couch unattended. A Mom wouldn’t say, it’s okay to do that when he is exhausted. And a MOM that was rushed, late to an appointment, wouldn’t go to her neighbors home bitching.

      Your cousin is a terrible mother, always has been, always will be. Two older kids placed outside of her care, due to her lifestyle that SHE chose.

      Your cousin lost rights to her other children due to shit like this. She was caught several times by others locking babies alone so she could go get her drugs on in the past. Neglect, abuse, and drugs.

      Apparently, according to the law, that isn’t being a good parent.

  • Amanda

    Instead of trying to figure out who to blame lets see the real tragedy in this two little innocent boys lost their life, and sometimes as parents we make mistakes that we dont always see until something bad happens. I am going to share a story about my self when my daughter was 5 months old i put her in bed with me and we both feel asleep she woke up before i did and rolled off the bed and got stuck between the mattress and the wall and suffocated her heart stopped and she was legally dead when ambulance arrived…thank you to the wonderful lord above he gave her back to me and i have always lived with the guilt of putting her in bed with me a falling asleep i had worked 14 days straight days and was just tired and thought i could get a few more minutes of sleep if i just cuddled with her…Should i have been charged with a crime…i believe that probably the guilt of what has happened will be punishment enough. I know both the parties involved granted i dont know them real well and had not talked to either one in a long time but i would have a real hard time believing that either one of their intended to have their beautiful babies lives taken from them in such a manner, please it is not our job to pass judgement or to act like we are all angels and perfect parents out their unfortunately we dont always know our mistakes until it is to late…lets take this tragedy and see it as a lesson and maybe learn from it lets stop with all the finger pointing. i hope non of you ever have to go through something like this i can not imagine losing a child and yet they lost two. To the parents of these little boys your family will be in my heart and even though its hard remember they are play in heaven and they feel nothing but happiness love and joy and they are always with you for our loved ones never truly leave us cause as long as you keep their memories in your heart you are never with out them….sorry if i rambled on but i have been reading these post and reading what people are saying and i just could not hold back any longer……..

      • anonymous

        Well Joe since you are to lazy to read it here’s the summary.

        Her point was that people need to not judge others and stop pointing figures unless they were there. She used an example of her mistake that techniclly led to the death of her 5 month old baby that EMT’s were able to revive. She knows how bad a choice it was in hindsight and she hopes this tragedy happened because of bad choices and not malice.

        Hope that helps you. Also if you want be an insensitive jerk thats fine, but don’t put it on here it’s rude and people get tired of the all hate.

      • Serving Tea

        Joe I have to agree this was a very necessary post, how do you turn this story into wanting to tell your story. As far as “Anonymous” calling Joe “an insensitive jerk”, get real- can’t you see how turning this story into a story about yourself as more of an insensitive move??

  • Joe

    Whomever tied the door shut is responsible and did it because they did not want the kids to wonder off while dad slept. I pray the fire wasn’t set on purpose and it doesn’t sound like it so far. Those kids screaming will haunt him for the rest of his life. It bothers me and I wasn’t even there.

    • Marjorie

      for the umpteenth time the bedroom door was not tied shut cause there was no bedroom door, just a child’s safety gate, and the boys was found in the living room not the bedroom. THEY WERE NEVER IN THE BEDROOM THAT MORNING.

      • InnocentChild

        For the upteenth time, your daughter is a chronic, habitual drug abuser, and so is your son Kevin. Your daughter has never been a good mother, and you can defend that all you want, but think on this Marj….if there was not a bungee chord, dont you think the investigators would have ‘questioned’ that hard, like they did about other things in that probable cause statement? Wouldn’t the police investigators say that the kids were found in the living room while Randy was being questioned over and over again about the height of flames off a couch?

        You betcha! And honey, checkmate in your life. You aren’t the law, you can run around spinning all the lies, distortions and tall tales you want in order to protect your baby girl from the consequences of her actions.

        She is 32 yrs old, hasn’t done shit in her life but ruin other people’s lives, while you come in and demand your way, try to tell everyone that she’s such a good mother, such a good person and such a victim.

        YOU are to blame for how your children turned out in life. They have been this way since they were in your care as a MOTHER. And you also have a past history of forgery, claiming other people on your taxes, and also of trying to sue others in order to recoup what your daughter has taken from you.

        What kind of people are you? Not decent, law abiding citizens. And the whole ‘bi polar’ excuse is for the birds. Your son and daughter WILL be convicted of their current crimes, despite your protests. THEY will spend some time in jail, and what are you going to do? Cry fake tears and spin false tales to get your 15 minutes of fame?

        Sad that you guys are so deluded. Because you can’t argue with the law now can you? :D

  • Roben

    Two babies are dead because of the neglect of parents, no doubt. Someone needs to be held accountable for their deaths and it sounds like there sure was enough evidence to charge the Dad. I don’t understand if Dad just got home from work, why didn’t he stop on his way home and get some food for the house. It’s too bad that a poor judgement call was made by both parents. They both will forever morn the loss of children that they will never get to see and hold again. Kids get into things, they should never be left alone even if you think they are asleep. Hope that is an example of other parents, what not to do.

  • Melissa Hayes

    Why do people assume because someone has a troubled past they are to blame? If the father was such a great guy why wasn’t there food in the house? This is a tragedy and obviously police have investigated for 3 months and found evidence enough to file charges.

  • Brian

    KAYLEN YEO, it seems you are enjoying being connected to this crime. You were awfully angry when you stated there was no bungee cord on the door. THE FATHER said there was a bungee cord on the door! The dad said he tried to save them but gave up and left?! If my kids were in a burning house I would either successfully rescue them, if it were impossible I would die trying. He is a coward. I also believe foul play is involved.

    • Serving Tea

      Brian, I was thinking the same thing reading thru all of the comments. I mean how many posts do you have to put “I am the cousin of the mother!”, my god stop replying and going off in a public forum. If you are grieving- this isnt the place to lash out. Ppl are always going to comment on the news- you can’t stop them. at. all. To keep saying you have been here thru the whole ordeal can’t be true then you would have a soot and smoke issue as well, pipe down. I see several ppl are busting out the mom as someone with quite a past. I don’t think anyone can do much judging on either side until evidence and facts are truly brought out. It all sounds fishy as all get out and I agree I smell foul play. As to which side I will wait to see what the court room has in store, as should everyone else. However I feel it should be both the mother and father on trial.

  • stephanie garrison

    Let me ask u something “Tamara’s cousin” were u there? The answer to that is NO. Was Tamara there? AGAIN the answer is no. It was said she was supposedly out getting food for when they woke up. Well How many times will this story change? Cause it told to the police that she was trying to get food stamps that she ALREADY had. With all that aside the fact of the matter is, two innocent children lost their lives, and for what???? All this arguing and finger pointing sure as heck isn’t gonna bring those sweet angels back. Nobody actually knows what happened except the person or persons that were there and whoever started the fire. Everyone is just speculating and feeding off the news, that’s it. I know deep in my heart Randy Garrison DID NOT kill his children, those boys and his two girls are his whole world. He lived and breathed for those kids. They are the reason he got up everyday.

  • Y'allneedhelp

    I read through all this and I must it is absolutely sickening. Anyone who knows Randy and know Tamara would know without a doubt that she is a sick woman.. rather or not Randys story adds up or not if you know him you would know he would do anything in this world to bring back those babies. Tamara on the other hand, her family was caught using money from a fund set up to bury the babies. Even after they had reached their goal she and family members continued milking people for every dime they could. She did as a fact get her other two children taken away for abuse, and neglect and as long as I’ve known her been involved in drugs and never been a true mother. I have serious doubts she went to get food for her sick children.. Most likely, knowing her she went to do something for herself. She is an awfyl conniving sick human being… if not for this crime she should at least be locked up for her “mental instability” and never allowed to have children again. And cousin of tamara what are you 12?? Shut up. Randy Garrison is being punished unjustly. If it is anyone’s fault these poor babies died, it is Tamara. PS. There are also pending charges on her as well. May shd rot in gell..

  • Poppy

    I came across this researching house fires that possibly could be the result of arson. Boy I am glad I don’t live in some small town in Missouri full of small-minded people.

    The father’s stories not only changed between interviews with law enforcement, there was no evidence he even tried to help his children. No burns, no smoke inhalation, no evidence he ripped off siding, like he claimed. Yet he’s being defended. And the defenders keep bringing up the mother’s criminal history when Mr. Garrison has quite the criminal history of his own. I’m seeing statutory rape, writing bad checks, violating a protective order and attempted escape from custody under a search for “Randy Michael Garrison.” Can’t see the forest from the trees, you who are so quick to crucify the mother, can you? This guy should have done the world a favor and not reproduced.

    As for the mother, looking at her from the outside and doing a bit of Google research, she’s no Mother of the Year candidate herself, even though I believe she had nothing to do with this fire. Between the two parents those kids didn’t stand much of a chance getting out of childhood unscathed. People’s past behaviors are often a mirror of their future ones and she’s apparently got quite a few demons she’s dealing with. She should have fighting those instead of raising children.

    The only innocents in this whole situation are the children. Please remember that, small-minded people, as you try to defend your chosen party.

  • Debbie Downer

    What kind of drug fuelled negligent “mother” leaves an infant and a toddler alone with a sleeping dad who just got off a 24 hour shift. Why couldn’t the “mother” take the boys with her on her errands, instead of expecting dad to stay awake for god-knows-how-many-hours? He was obviously exhausted. Did this “mother” ensure dad was awake and alert before she left an infant and toddler with him? Or did she yell something at him, heard him grunt, and that was good enough for her. After all, didn’t this “mother” have some drugs she needed to attend to? Weren’t drugs more important? The only one who did any child endangerment is the trashy drug mom who leaves her infant and toddler with a sleeping man who just finished a 24 hour shift.