What to know about Ashley Nicole King, mom accused of killing 4-month-old son
Editor’s note: Police originally told the Ledger-Enquirer that the infant was home alone. It was later determined the child’s mother was in the apartment at the time of the fire.
The mother of the 4-month-baby who died in a Phenix City apartment fire Wednesday has been arrested and charged with capital murder.
An investigation revealed the fire was deliberately set, Phenix City police Capt. Darryl Williams said Thursday morning.
Probable cause was determined and Ashley Nicole King, 31, was arrested and charged with capital murder, according to a news release. That charge can be applied in this case under Alabama Criminal Code because the child was younger than 14, Williams said.
He said police do not know the motive at this time.
The infant was found unresponsive and suffering from severe burns about 10:15 a.m. Wednesday in a Clover Leaf Apartment Homes unit, Williams said.
Police originally told the Ledger-Enquirer on Wednesday that the infant was home alone. It was later determined the child’s mother was in the apartment at the time of the fire.
Williams said Thursday that management called the fire department and let them into the apartment, which was filled with smoke, when firefighters arrived.
“There was zero visibility,” Williams said.
Fire crews rescued King and once she was outside, neighbors starting asking where her baby was.
Williams said King repeatedly said “there’s no baby,” but crews went back into the apartment anyway and found the boy.
The infant was later pronounced dead at Piedmont Columbus Regional, Midtown Medical hospital and his body has been sent to the Alabama Forensics Crime Lab for autopsy, Williams said.
King’s initial court appearance was held Thursday morning. Williams said she will continue to be held without bond and has been issued a court-appointed attorney, Jeremy Armstrong, who will meet with her prior to a second hearing. No date has been set for that hearing.
Williams also said King had an outstanding warrant already for bail jumping.
Williams said King was living at the apartment at the time of the incident, but her name is not on the lease. The apartment is rented by her boyfriend, police said, but did not release the identity of the boyfriend.
A woman who said she lives in the unit above the apartment where the infant was found told a Ledger-Enquirer reporter Thursday afternoon that she was at work when her boyfriend called and told her that her apartment building was on fire.
“That scared me,” the woman said. She declined to give her name.
The woman, who was leaving her apartment as she spoke with the reporter Thursday, said she arrived back at her apartment Wednesday around 11 a.m. and saw “firemen everywhere.”
Although the fire didn’t damage her unit, she said, “I’m still smelling the aftermath.”
She also said that while she did not know King by name and never interacted with her, she recognized King in a photograph that she was shown.
A man who was arriving at his apartment Thursday when he spoke with a Ledger-Enquirer reporter said he lives with his brother in a unit adjacent to the apartment where the fire occurred. He also declined to give his name, but said his brother called him at work to alert him about the fire.
“He said the people from the (Clover Leaf) office were knocking on the door and yelling that there was a fire,” the man said.
When he learned about the alleged crime, he said, “There’s no words for that.”
Williams said the investigation that resulted in King’s arrest was a coordinated effort with the Phenix City Fire Department, Russell County Department of Human Services, the Alabama State Fire Marshal’s office and Phenix City police.
Mark Rice, Ledger-Enquirer reporter, contributed to this story.