ATLANTA – Nothing indicated that Lamora Williams would kill her children, according to her family and the Division of Family and Children Services.
However, everything would change when 24-year-old Williams called 911 on Friday, Oct. 20 from her southwest Atlanta home to report that her sons, 1-year-old Ja’Karter Penn and 2-year-old Ke’Yaunte Penn, were dead.
Williams’s family told 11Alive about a history of mental health issues, and that her family tried to get DFCS involved. But DFCS rebuts that claim.
DFCS said, they were never contacted regarding her two sons, 1-year-old Ja’Karter and 2-year-old Ke’Yaunte's welfare – nor had any warning that her mental health capacity was a problem.
In fact, in a 73-page report from DFCS, they only document Ja’Karter and Ke’Yaunte’s deaths, citing “inadequate supervision” for all three of her sons, including 3-year-old surviving son, Jameel Penn Jr.
Williams’s sister, Tabitha Hollingsworth, said she assumed that Williams would do something to herself—never to her children. In the past, her family, she said, tried to intervene, but Williams would always withdrawal.
“With Lamora not wanting that help, not letting us come to visit her, not answering phone calls, not answering the door,” Hollingsworth said.
But, Hollingsworth said her sister battled with mental health issues most of her life and it became more serious in recent years. She said Williams refused medical help and wouldn’t admit to having a mental illness.
In 2014, her father died and recently she had a miscarriage. When Hollingsworth saw her sister’s booking photo, it became clear that the illness she had been fighting for so long had taken over – at least in that moment.
“That was a demonic spirit took over her, she looks possessed – that didn’t even look like her,” she said. “That mugshot... she looks evil.”
But she said it was a long road that led to that moment.
“She was dealing with postpartum and then… if you just lost this baby; then you’re dealing with postpartum again—plus, your mental health issue,” Hollingsworth argued.
Her ex-boyfriend and father of her three sons, Jameel Penn, of Austell, Ga., told a DFCS case worker, following his sons' deaths, that Williams had not been the same since her father died.
"She really haven't [sic] been herself and her behavior [was] off," he told DFCS. "[She] liked to hang out in the streets and go to clubs."
“It didn’t really hit me until I got up on the casket. When you’re walking down the aisle and you get up on that casket, that is when it gets real,” Jameel said about laying his sons to rest.
The father of three relives the reality of the two most tragic deaths any parent can fathom. Meanwhile, he’s holding on tight to his only living son left and doing everything he can to come to terms with what has happened.
“I’m praying and I’m glad they don’t have to suffer no more. I’m glad that they are in a better place… I wanted to see my sons grow up,” Penn said about losing his two youngest sons.
“I think about them every day. I just take it one day at a time. It is still hard, but I’m thankful that God blessed me to have one child, one left.”
When police arrived at her Howell Place apartment, they discovered a gruesome scene. The children were dead and had burn marks on their bodies.
According to the arrest warrant, police believe Williams put the two children in the oven and turned it on.
Penn said Williams called him Friday night and yelled, “They’re dead.”
“Who’s dead?” he questioned her.
Moments later, Williams placed a video call to Penn from inside the apartment.
“When she turned the phone to the floor, I seen my two sons on the floor—both not moving. One by the stove; one not too far from his brother. They both weren’t moving,” the father of three remembered vividly.
“Every time I close my eyes from now on, that is what I'm going to see," Penn said.
His oldest son was home when his brothers died and witnessed what happened.
“He describes everything,” Jameel said. “And, it is like when we talk about it more he gets into full detail. He starts saying stuff that he seen. This happened, this happened and you know he is not lying. He isn’t lying. Everything Jameel told me I believe is exactly what he said. The way that my son spoke in complete sentences to me, a 3-year-old, I know for a fact he is not lying.”
He talks about it every day, Jameel said. In fact, he said, his son witnessed what his mom allegedly did to his brothers.
“That is part of what he said, yeah. She put them in there,” Jameel said. “He described fully detailed that my two youngest boys was on the floor. I believe every bit of it because the video call showed didn’t show me everything he said, but it showed me the rest of what he said. They not moving.”
In the DFCS report, the case worker asked Jameel Jr., what he saw.
According to the report, he was smiling and made eye contact with the case worker when he said, "They go on the stove themselves," referring to his younger brothers.
He also told the case worker that Ja'Karter "sleep on the stove." Furthermore, when his mom called for an ambulance, he said, the stove fell on his brothers.
When asked if he was home alone with his brothers when it happened, he looked around and didn't answer the question--then asked to be with his "daddy."
► Mother charged in murder of infant boys
► Arrest warrant: Mother put children in oven, turned it on
► Neighbors, family: Mother of dead children would leave them alone often
► 911 calls describe horrific scene where children found dead
► Questions of crime reporting arise after toddlers' heartrending deaths
Williams was charged with her two sons' murders and was in court Monday, Oct. 30.
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