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Woman living in shed on her family’s property dies in fire

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- “I lost my baby, it was my baby,” a tearful Betty Pugh said.

A mother mourns and fears the worst after an early morning fire in Kansas City's northeast neighborhood.

Before 6 a.m. morning, firefighters went to fight the fire near 9th and Hardesty.

They found a shed on fire, and eventually a woman's body inside.

Right now, police call the death suspicious.

While police have not confirmed the victim's identity, FOX 4's Melissa Stern spoke to a family who's certain it's their loved one.

Family members said Sandra Willadsen was living in the shed that caught fire for about four days. They said they don't think this fire was an accident.

“I only have my son left. I lost all my girls; I had a set of twins, and Sandy was my oldest,” Pugh said.

Betty Pugh said her daughter, Sandra, was living in a shed behind the building where she lived. She said just before six this morning, she was abruptly woken up.

“A girlfriend of mine beat on the door and said call 911. I'm going to try to get Sandy,” Pugh said. “I ran straight down, tried to kick the door in. I couldn’t, the flames were just too much.”

Pugh said she ran back up to get her son.

“Well my mom woke me up screaming, 'James, get up! The garage is on fire!'” James Potter, Sandra’s brother, said. “So I ran out and saw fire everywhere, coming up both sides of the building and in the back. I ran up, kicked the door in, and the flames were so bad, I couldn't help her.”

Potter said his sister has only been living here about four days.

“She was homeless. She lived in a tent,” Potter explained.

Potter said Sandra needed somewhere to go, so she was staying in the back shed behind his place.

“She made a little fireplace and I guess it caught fire,” Potter said. “She had another friend here. I don't know whether she had something to do with this or not, because she snuck in there and had set up a little place for her, and I didn't even know it.”

Family members said Sandra has four grown kids on the east coast, and a fiancé who was taken into police custody after running in to the crime scene after hearing the news.

“I loved Sandy. Everybody loved her. She was a sweet person. She helped everybody, everybody,” Pugh said.

Pugh said her daughter's dog, Sookie Sue, also died in the fire.

“Sookie doesn't leave her side,” Pugh added.

“I'm hurt. I'm going to miss my sister,” Potter said. “I'm lost. I really feel lost.”

Police aren't giving any details on their investigation, but we do know the fire department had its bomb and arson squad at the scene earlier in the day.