Twins killed in house fire were vibrant, fun-loving, relative says
BRANDON - Richie and Rishaud Edwards were vibrant, fun-loving, 2-year-old twins who loved riding their scooters, walking and talking and getting rides around the neighborhood, said their great uncle, Joe Sims. "They were 2 going on 4," he said. "They loved to flirt with the girls.'' The twins died early Thursday morning in an overnight fire at the Brandon home of a great aunt. Investigators are still trying to determine how the fire started. Their mother, Jaimey Sims, 19, dropped the children off at 101 Foxwood Drive at about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, then went out with friends at about 11:45 p.m., according to Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Debbie Carter.Linda Morgan, 52, and her fiancée Elmer Morales, 60, did not know the children were in the home because they were sleeping when Sims dropped them off, said Carter. The fire broke out about 12:20 a.m., Carter said, and Sims came back when she got a call from Morgan. When the fire started, Morgan and Morales safely got out and told firefighters no one else was in the home, Carter said. Jaimey Sims was "devastated" when she found out about her sons, Carter said. About two dozen firefighters responded to the blaze. After putting out the fire, Hillsborough County firefighters found the twins in a back room, Carter said. The toddlers were taken to a hospital, where they were pronounced dead. Joe Sims said his great niece is "one hell of a woman, raising those two kids on her own." She was going back to Brewster Tech three days a week to get her nursing degree, he said. Jaimey Sims was working at the snack bar of the Tampa Yacht and Country Club, where she and Morgan worked, Joe Sims said. "She just applied to the 7-11 around the corner," he said. "She was trying to earn some extra income." She was torn apart, said Joe Sims, by the news about her children. "I tried to talk to her this morning, but she just kept crying," he said. Jaimey Sims dated the children's father, Richard Clive Edwards Jr., for about six months, "but it didn't work out," said Joe Sims. Neighbor Cheryl Zanghi said she has known the family for more than 20 years. "Their hearts are absolutely broken, and I don't know how they will get past it," Zanghi said. "Right now they have no home, they have no resources. I want people to know they are really grieving." Jaimey Sims had been investigated by the Department of Children and Families in February, but the complaint against her was ruled unsubstantiated, said DCF spokesman Terry Field. Field did not have details about that complaint. Jaimey Sims was granted child support from Edwards exactly one year ago, according to court records. Efforts to reach Edwards at his last known address and by telephone were not successful. A man who lived next door to Morgan for 26 years said the neighborhood is devastated. "It is just unbelievable," said Carl Anthony. "The emotion in the neighborhood is real high right now. They were just cute little boys; it is just a tragedy." His wife, Sharon, said Morgan is very family-oriented and was often seen pulling the two boys around the neighborhood in a wagon. She said that if Morgan and her fiancé had known the children were inside, "they would have risked their lives" to go back inside and try to get them. The incident is being investigated by the State Fire Marshal's office, Hillsborough County Fire Rescue and the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. The cause of death will be determined by the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner's Office. Joe Sims said the last time he saw the twins was Tuesday morning. "They were buzzing around on their scooters," he said. "This is so tragic."
News Channel 8 reporters Chip Osowski Samara Sodos and Natalie Shepherd contributed to this story. firstname.lastname@example.org (813) 259-7629