Iberia mother sets baby on fire

The Miller County mother who confessed to setting her baby on fire appeared before Miller County Judge Ken Oswald Monday. At this time, Christina L. White's baby is still in critical condition at University Hospital in Colombia. KRCG's Mallory Mcgowin has worked on the story since it developed and has the latest information.

Christina L. White came before Judge Oswald around 11:15 Monday morning. White cried as the judge read the four felony charges she now faces, first degree arson and three counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

We made phone calls throughout the day Monday to learn more about this family's situation. We wanted to get details about alleged events that happened within the family in the weeks prior to the fire Wednesday at 432 Lombar Street. Also, we wanted to know what the plans are for Christina White's other children who are now in protective custody. To do that, we contacted the Missouri Department of Social Service offices in Eldon, Camden County, and Jefferson City. We also called Miller County Juvenile authorities.

Because juveniles are involved and the investigation is ongoing, there is little information authorities can tell us. But Tammy Walden, the Chief Juvenile Officer for the 26th District, which includes Miller County, did talk to me by phone about what process the Juvenile Court follows.

She told me that within 24 hours of the children being taken into protective custody, a judge must sign a court order to maintain that placement. Then, within 72 hours, the children are entitled to a protective custody hearing in front of a judge. That hearing took place Monday morning.

"Following that, within 60 days, allegations and the petition must be ajudicated in court. So it moves quickly," says Walden.

Authorities who arrived at the scene of this Iberia house fire first thought it was set by one of the other kids there. Christina White's children were taken from her care then because authorities suspected there was a lack of supervision in the house.

But the probable cause statement tells us White later confessed to setting the fire. She told them she used a cigarette lighter to set the blanket covering her six-month-old son on fire as he slept in his crib. She said she was under stress and did want her son to die.

White will appear in court again Wednesday. She is applying for a public defender and will learn then if she qualifies.