Missouri 'Teacher of the Year' is killed in house fire alongside her four young children

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By stefan armitage

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A college professor and her four children have tragically lost their lives in a house fire police are treating as "suspicious".

In a devastating turn of events, Bernadine "Birdie" Pruessner - a former Missouri Teacher of the Year title winner - lost her life alongside her four children in a house fire that has left the community reeling.

The fire, which occurred early Monday morning in Ferguson, Missouri, has been labeled as "suspicious", with authorities noting evidence of criminal activity at the scene.

Pruessner, a well-respected community college professor, was found dead along with her children: Millie Spader, 2, Jackson Spader, 5, and 9-year-old twins Ellie and Ivy Pruessner.

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The educator and her four children lost their lives in the tragic fire. Credit: GoFundMe

The blaze, which broke out at around 4:30AM, also claimed the lives of three family dogs, while several other pets managed to survive, the St. Lois Post-Dispatch reports.

Neighbor Jerry McClure, who made the distressing 911 call, described the harrowing scene, recalling: "The smoke was so bad. I tried to kick the front door. We just couldn’t wake them up."

Another neighbor by the name of Jamie Young said that he comforted members of Pruessner's family, including her father.

"He told me, ‘That’s my daughter and my four grandbabies,’ and I just… my heart just went out for him," Young told local news outlet KSDK.

Authorities have launched an investigation into the fire, enlisting the assistance of St. Louis Regional Bomb and Arson detectives. Per Fox 2, a search warrant has been secured for the family’s van, further underscoring the suspicion surrounding the incident.

St. Louis County police Sergeant Tracy Panus did not elaborate on the evidence found at the property that has led to authorities describing the case as "suspicious".

The heartbreaking loss has left family members and neighbors in mourning. Pruessner’s father, Cordell Beache, spoke fondly of his "amazing" daughter and grandchildren, revealing that had spent time together on the eve of the tragedy.

Colleague Nic Jones praised Pruessner's dedication to her work in the child development department at Lewis & Clark Community College, highlighting her innovative approach and commitment to providing educational opportunities to all students.

"She was a wonderful woman," Jones added.

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Credit: Facebook

Pruessner’s impact extended beyond the classroom, as evidenced by her recognition as Missouri Teacher of the Year in 2013 and her contributions as a published author in the field of education.

Additionally, Cathy Kelly - a spokesperson for the Parkway School District - confirmed that Ellie and Ivy were beloved fourth-graders at Mason Ridge Elementary School.

The family's surving pets - including rabbits, chickens, and cats - are now being cared for thanks to organizations like the Ferguson Animal Coalition.

Reflecting on the tragedy, Dara Ashby of the Ferguson Animal Coalition expressed sorrow for the immense loss suffered by the community, telling KSDK: "The animals were very happy and had food and water and I know the owner. She loved them dearly. And so I’m happy that I could help in some way, to help her animals."

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Donations are pouring in to help support the professor's family. Credit: GoFundMe

A GoFundMe has since been launched in an effort to "alleviate the financial burdens faced by Birdie's family". At the time of this writing, more than $8,000 has been raised thanks to kind donations.

Our thoughts go out to the Ferguson community and everybody impacted by this tragedy.

Featured image credit: GoFundMe

Missouri 'Teacher of the Year' is killed in house fire alongside her four young children

vt-author-image

By stefan armitage

Article saved!Article saved!

A college professor and her four children have tragically lost their lives in a house fire police are treating as "suspicious".

In a devastating turn of events, Bernadine "Birdie" Pruessner - a former Missouri Teacher of the Year title winner - lost her life alongside her four children in a house fire that has left the community reeling.

The fire, which occurred early Monday morning in Ferguson, Missouri, has been labeled as "suspicious", with authorities noting evidence of criminal activity at the scene.

Pruessner, a well-respected community college professor, was found dead along with her children: Millie Spader, 2, Jackson Spader, 5, and 9-year-old twins Ellie and Ivy Pruessner.

size-large wp-image-1263249961
The educator and her four children lost their lives in the tragic fire. Credit: GoFundMe

The blaze, which broke out at around 4:30AM, also claimed the lives of three family dogs, while several other pets managed to survive, the St. Lois Post-Dispatch reports.

Neighbor Jerry McClure, who made the distressing 911 call, described the harrowing scene, recalling: "The smoke was so bad. I tried to kick the front door. We just couldn’t wake them up."

Another neighbor by the name of Jamie Young said that he comforted members of Pruessner's family, including her father.

"He told me, ‘That’s my daughter and my four grandbabies,’ and I just… my heart just went out for him," Young told local news outlet KSDK.

Authorities have launched an investigation into the fire, enlisting the assistance of St. Louis Regional Bomb and Arson detectives. Per Fox 2, a search warrant has been secured for the family’s van, further underscoring the suspicion surrounding the incident.

St. Louis County police Sergeant Tracy Panus did not elaborate on the evidence found at the property that has led to authorities describing the case as "suspicious".

The heartbreaking loss has left family members and neighbors in mourning. Pruessner’s father, Cordell Beache, spoke fondly of his "amazing" daughter and grandchildren, revealing that had spent time together on the eve of the tragedy.

Colleague Nic Jones praised Pruessner's dedication to her work in the child development department at Lewis & Clark Community College, highlighting her innovative approach and commitment to providing educational opportunities to all students.

"She was a wonderful woman," Jones added.

size-large wp-image-1263249958
Credit: Facebook

Pruessner’s impact extended beyond the classroom, as evidenced by her recognition as Missouri Teacher of the Year in 2013 and her contributions as a published author in the field of education.

Additionally, Cathy Kelly - a spokesperson for the Parkway School District - confirmed that Ellie and Ivy were beloved fourth-graders at Mason Ridge Elementary School.

The family's surving pets - including rabbits, chickens, and cats - are now being cared for thanks to organizations like the Ferguson Animal Coalition.

Reflecting on the tragedy, Dara Ashby of the Ferguson Animal Coalition expressed sorrow for the immense loss suffered by the community, telling KSDK: "The animals were very happy and had food and water and I know the owner. She loved them dearly. And so I’m happy that I could help in some way, to help her animals."

size-large wp-image-1263249964
Donations are pouring in to help support the professor's family. Credit: GoFundMe

A GoFundMe has since been launched in an effort to "alleviate the financial burdens faced by Birdie's family". At the time of this writing, more than $8,000 has been raised thanks to kind donations.

Our thoughts go out to the Ferguson community and everybody impacted by this tragedy.

Featured image credit: GoFundMe