Columbus police have started a homicide investigation into the deaths of Rosella Mitchell and her infant son, Dylan Conner, whose charred bodies were found early Thursday in their Winifred Lane home.
Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan said the deaths were declared homicides Friday afternoon after authorities received the results from an autopsy at the crime lab in Atlanta. The specific cause of the deaths wasn't released, the coroner said.
In addition to the cause of deaths, the crime lab wants DNA and other evidence to help make a positive identification on the 32-year-old mother and her 6-month-old son.
Late Friday, police said the investigation into the deaths will continue and no arrests have been made.
The family of Mitchell and Dylan told the Ledger-Enquirer on Friday that Mitchell was abundantly caring and called Dylan a "miracle."
"She was a wonderful human being and this shouldn't have happened to her," said Vernessa Mitchell, one of Rosella's aunts.
Vernessa said her family is devastated by the deaths. She said that Dylan was "a miracle baby," because Rosella had been told by doctors that she couldn't have children.
"When she got pregnant, she was so happy," Vernessa said.
Rosella, 32, had recently moved to 1324 Winifred Lane, Vernessa said. Rosella was born in California, but she was raised in Columbus.
She had recently enrolled as a full-time college student. Her family said she planned to get a degree in education and work in the school system, after spending much of her life taking care of her mother.
Rosella's family said she had a long history of helping others.
"She would give you the shirt off her back," said an aunt, who declined to be identified.
Rosella's grandmother, Hattie, was a community activist. Growing up, Rosella watched her help many different people. At one point, Hattie ran a boys' home, the family said. Following Hattie's death, Rosella founded an organization to carry on her grandmother's legacy of activism and outreach.
"She wanted to do that in memory of my mother, even if it was just to help one person at a time," the aunt said.
Rosella had worked at Foxie 105, Cox Communications and ADT. She was excellent at marketing, her family said.
"She loved the Lord," her aunt said.
The family said they are in the process of setting up a memorial fund to help bury Rosella and her son.
The deaths of Rosella Mitchell and Dylan Conner are the 16th and 17th in Columbus this year and part of three during a 24-hour period. Christopher Jones, 16, died of a gunshot to the head at Head Street and Winston Road late Thursday.