A view of outside the home where a 12-year-old girl was found dead inside. (photo by Brittiny Barber/13WMAZ.com)
Authorities in Houston County are investigating the death of a 12-year-old girl in Kathleen.
In a press release Wednesday afternoon, deputies identified the victim as India J. Collins and announced they are looking for her 17-year-old sister, Carmen Collins.
Houston County Coroner Danny Galpin says India was found inside a home that caught fire Tuesday night.
While they await autopsy results, deputies are treating this case as an arson and a homicide.
WMAZ's Brittiny Barber was on the scene Wednesday morning and spoke with neighbor Kenneth Anderson, whose wife called 911.
"I'm shocked. I just can't believe it," said Anderson.
Anderson said he tried to rescue the little girl he'd grown accustomed to seeing at play in her yard.
After first trying to get in the front door, which was locked, Anderson said he and another neighbor went through the garage and found the side door open. But the house was too full of smoke to enter.
"We opened the door. Smoke was coming out of the house, coming out real thick, that we could not go in there, so we hollered about three or four times saying is anybody in the house?" Anderson said. "We didn't get an answered response."
Neighbors said they knew the young girl well.
"She was just full of life, doing cartwheels in the yard. She would come over and say 'hey' to my daughter and bring her puppy over," said Michael Ware.
Anderson said, "She wore glasses, her hair was curly... always smiling and laughing."
They said that made the events of Tuesday night even harder to believe for people in the community.
"This is a normal family. This is not somebody that you would think anything foul about," said Ware.
According to the Houston County Sheriff's office, firefighters were called to the home in the 100 block of Addington Drive around 7 p.m. Tuesday.
They are calling it a suspected arson with a suspicious death. Investigators aren't saying if the victim died in the fire.
The girl was reportedly home alone with the fire started. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.