Wanedia Scales had sought a protection order, writing that her husband had "threatened to burn the house down with me in it"

By Jeff Truesdell
June 26, 2020 04:27 PM
Robert Scales Sr., top center, with wife Wanedia Scales and sons Robert Jr., Elijah and Xavier

A fire that killed a Michigan mom and her three sons occurred after the woman sought an order of personal protection against her husband, writing that he had "threatened to burn the house down with me in it."

The husband and father, Robert Scales Sr., 38, was arrested June 18 and charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter in the February deaths at the family's Grand Rapids home, reports TV station WOOD.

His wife, Wanedia Scales, 34, and three sons — Xavier, 15, Robert Jr. 13, and Elijah, 9 — all were asleep upstairs when the fire broke out about 12:30 a.m. on Feb. 5, and all died of smoke inhalation, reports MLive.

Police said the accused started the fire in an outside burn pit located about six feet from the home's exterior, with a mattress placed between the burn pit and the structure, according to affidavit of probable cause obtained by WOOD.

An officer wrote that Scales admitted to setting the fire earlier that evening, but that Scales said he let the fire burn out on its own before he left for work, according to the affidavit.

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Five months before the fire, police answered a domestic disturbance call at the family home on Sept. 1, after which Wanedia Scales filed a request for a protection order in which she expressed a fear that her husband was going to kill her, according to documents obtained by FOX17.

"Defendant vandalized property and has threatened to burn the house down with me in it," she wrote. "He also threaten me in front of his children that if I try and stop him from damaging the house my face was going to be next [then] he took his pointer finger in front of his kids and shoved my face."

Her request for the order and a separate divorce filing both were later dismissed.

"Her heart was very pure,” Scales said in describing his wife after her death and before he was charged, reports MLive. “Everybody loved her. She would go above and beyond the call of duty for the people she took care of.”

He added: "My sons, they were definitely very ambitious young men."

"Robert & Elijah were two young, vivacious, talented, intelligent, and loving boys," said a GoFundMe page set up on behalf of the two youngest, who were Scales' from a previous relationship. "They loved playing sports, working outside with their dad and stepbrother, and spending time with close family members. Having aspirations to go to college and becoming business owners, their futures were both bright and promising. Their presence was sure to illuminate every space they occupied with their beautiful smiles and energetic personalities."

Scales was released from the Kent County Correctional Facility on the same day he was booked after turning himself in. It could not be determined if he has entered a plea to the charges, and an attorney who might speak on his behalf was not immediately identified.