Grieving father of children killed in house fire alongside their mom speaks out

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By Asiya Ali

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The bereaved father of two of the four children who tragically died alongside their mother after she allegedly started a house fire has spoken out.

On Monday (February 19), Bernadine "Birdie" Pruessner - who is a former 'Teacher of the Year' - allegedly deliberately ignited the blaze that destroyed her family home in Ferguson and claimed the lives of her nine-year-old twins Ellie and Ivy Pruessner, five-year-old Jackson Spader, and two-year-old Millie Spader.

In an update shared two days later, the St. Louis County Police Department declared that Pruessner intentionally set the fire and that the incident was a murder-suicide.

"It is believed that Bernadine intentionally set a mattress on fire as that was the point of origin for the fire," the police department confirmed as cited by The New York Post, adding that a note revealing Pruessner's intentions to end her own life and the lives of her children was discovered at the scene.

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Bernadine with her twins Ellie and Ivy Pruessner, nine, five-year-old Jackson Spader, and two-year-old Millie Spader. Credit: GoFundMe

The grieving father of Jackson and Millie shared a heartbreaking statement about the loss of his children, telling Fox 2 Now: "What I would want everyone to know about my two wonderful children is they are the greatest gift that a father could ever ask for.

"Jackson was the most incredible older brother, kind, intuitive, and gentle. He loved his sisters, being outside, sports, art, and he was always so in tune with the needs of others," he continued. "Millie was a funny, charismatic, sweet, and kind little sister who brightened every moment of every day for all of us.

"They were the two most beautiful souls that a father could ask for, and they were a gift to our lives in every way," he said, adding that he and twins Ellie and Ivy's father, David Pruessner, "have to focus on honoring these four beautiful lives and we plan to do that together".

Bernadine had been in an "awful place" due to "ongoing litigation" with her ex-husband and the father of her twin daughters, according to a statement to her GoFundMe page set up by her family.

She and her ex-husband - who divorced in 2017 - shared joint custody of Ivy and Ellie through last year, when he filed to block Bernadine's plans to relocate to Creve Coeur, as stated on the fundraiser page.

"Each day that Birdie would score a step forward, her ex-husband and or her former boyfriend would undertake an action to denigrate or undermine her role as a mother. Her ex-husband and former boyfriend were well funded by their incomes and assets and demonstrated a No Holds Barred when it came to attacking our daughter Birdie," the family penned.

Documents obtained by The New York Post revealed that David was concerned about his ex-wife's closeness to her mother, whom she had allegedly described as "psychotic".

"The first cast that I’ve ever had where the parent objected to the other parent moving closer to the other parent," Bernadine’s lawyer, Nathan Cohen, told the publication.

The tragedy took place just hours before the late teacher shared a harrowing final social media post that highlighted her love for her children. "All my kids, peacefully sleeping in my bed... Knowing they are loved so fiercely that I'd do absolutely anything for them," she wrote on Facebook.

Bernadine, who constantly posted joyful snapshots with her children, also shared a post last Sunday (February 18), which read: "Us against the world. I’m so blessed to be their mama. They have a heart for the lord and have overcome so much more in their little lives than they should have had to face."

Our thoughts are with all of those affected by this tragedy.

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat at 988lifeline.org.

Featured image credit: Carrollphoto / Getty

Grieving father of children killed in house fire alongside their mom speaks out

vt-author-image

By Asiya Ali

Article saved!Article saved!

The bereaved father of two of the four children who tragically died alongside their mother after she allegedly started a house fire has spoken out.

On Monday (February 19), Bernadine "Birdie" Pruessner - who is a former 'Teacher of the Year' - allegedly deliberately ignited the blaze that destroyed her family home in Ferguson and claimed the lives of her nine-year-old twins Ellie and Ivy Pruessner, five-year-old Jackson Spader, and two-year-old Millie Spader.

In an update shared two days later, the St. Louis County Police Department declared that Pruessner intentionally set the fire and that the incident was a murder-suicide.

"It is believed that Bernadine intentionally set a mattress on fire as that was the point of origin for the fire," the police department confirmed as cited by The New York Post, adding that a note revealing Pruessner's intentions to end her own life and the lives of her children was discovered at the scene.

wp-image-1263250170 size-full
Bernadine with her twins Ellie and Ivy Pruessner, nine, five-year-old Jackson Spader, and two-year-old Millie Spader. Credit: GoFundMe

The grieving father of Jackson and Millie shared a heartbreaking statement about the loss of his children, telling Fox 2 Now: "What I would want everyone to know about my two wonderful children is they are the greatest gift that a father could ever ask for.

"Jackson was the most incredible older brother, kind, intuitive, and gentle. He loved his sisters, being outside, sports, art, and he was always so in tune with the needs of others," he continued. "Millie was a funny, charismatic, sweet, and kind little sister who brightened every moment of every day for all of us.

"They were the two most beautiful souls that a father could ask for, and they were a gift to our lives in every way," he said, adding that he and twins Ellie and Ivy's father, David Pruessner, "have to focus on honoring these four beautiful lives and we plan to do that together".

Bernadine had been in an "awful place" due to "ongoing litigation" with her ex-husband and the father of her twin daughters, according to a statement to her GoFundMe page set up by her family.

She and her ex-husband - who divorced in 2017 - shared joint custody of Ivy and Ellie through last year, when he filed to block Bernadine's plans to relocate to Creve Coeur, as stated on the fundraiser page.

"Each day that Birdie would score a step forward, her ex-husband and or her former boyfriend would undertake an action to denigrate or undermine her role as a mother. Her ex-husband and former boyfriend were well funded by their incomes and assets and demonstrated a No Holds Barred when it came to attacking our daughter Birdie," the family penned.

Documents obtained by The New York Post revealed that David was concerned about his ex-wife's closeness to her mother, whom she had allegedly described as "psychotic".

"The first cast that I’ve ever had where the parent objected to the other parent moving closer to the other parent," Bernadine’s lawyer, Nathan Cohen, told the publication.

The tragedy took place just hours before the late teacher shared a harrowing final social media post that highlighted her love for her children. "All my kids, peacefully sleeping in my bed... Knowing they are loved so fiercely that I'd do absolutely anything for them," she wrote on Facebook.

Bernadine, who constantly posted joyful snapshots with her children, also shared a post last Sunday (February 18), which read: "Us against the world. I’m so blessed to be their mama. They have a heart for the lord and have overcome so much more in their little lives than they should have had to face."

Our thoughts are with all of those affected by this tragedy.

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat at 988lifeline.org.

Featured image credit: Carrollphoto / Getty