EAST POINT, Ga. — East Point Police said the mother arrested for setting the East Point apartment fire confessed to killing her daughter before the fire was set.
The girl's mother, Nicole Jackson, also confessed to setting the fire as a cover-up for the murder, according to officials. She is currently behind bars and facing multiple charges, including arson and murder.
Police could not confirm when the 4-year-old girl was killed or what caused her death without an autopsy, which officials said will be performed Monday.
"We will make sure she never gets out," said East Point Police Chief Shawn Buchanan.
Authorities with the Georgia Department of Human Services said Monday the department had history with the mother on "possible neglect concerns" in 2019. The case was initially closed, but was reopened when the family moved to another Georgia county.
Department officials said they didn't believe the 4-year-old, who they identified as Arielle Jackson, was in "imminent danger" when closing the case this June.
On the eve of Thanksgiving, fire crews responded to the Brookfield apartment complex on Washington Road. As crews worked to put the fire out they found the daughter's body. Firefighters first believed the mother to be in the apartment as the fire was burning, which prompted crews to start a search and rescue.
Officers later discovered that the mother was never in the burning building. That's when the joint investigation between East Point Fire and the police department turned into a missing persons investigation, officials said. Police later arrested Jackson two days later.
Fire officials released information later implying the fire was intentionally set.
“Our suspicion was heightened that foul play was involved due to the acceleration of the fire. We know the suspect used some type of unknown accelerant, which explains why the fire spread so quickly,” stated East Point Fire Chief Corey Thornton.
Officials said the twin sister, who was also in the home during the fire, is in her grandmother's custody while recovering from burns.
Police haven't said if Jackson was evaluated for mental illnesses.
Investigators said the flames left catastrophic damage and seven families were left without a home.
An online fundraiser has been set up for the family.
Watch a replay of the press conference below.
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