Michigan man started fire that killed family, police allege

A Michigan man's story has changed in connection to a fire that killed his family. Supplied / Kent County Correctional Facility

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A Michigan man’s story has changed in connection to a fire that killed his family.

Robert Scales, 38, is facing four counts of involuntary manslaughter in the February fire that killed his wife and their three children, police said, according to the New York Post.

Scales had originally said he was working when the February fire in Grand Rapids happened. Now he has come clean about starting a fire in a burn pit about six feet away from the home the night before, police wrote in an affidavit of probable cause.

The fire killed Wanedia Scales, 35, 15-year-old Xavier Woldeab, 10-year-old Elijah Scales and 14-year-old Robert Scales Jr., WOOD-TV reports.

Fire investigators said the fire eventually spread to the home, which had a mattress placed between it and the fire pit, police said.

A man had told investigators he was alongside Scales as he burned leaves in the pit, but left at about 7 p.m. Feb. 4 and didn’t see a mattress near the fire pit at the time, according to the affidavit.

“He stated that he told Robert he needed to get a bigger pit and move it away from the house,” police wrote.

Five months earlier, Wanedia Scales sought a personal protection order against her husband, claiming he had threatened to “burn the house down” with her inside, MLive.com reported. Relatives of Wanedia Scales believe Robert Scales set the fire on purpose.


“I am begging you,” Wanedia Scales wrote in the request, which was not approved. “I am scared for my life. I don’t know what else to do. I need help please.” She had also accused him of vandalizing their home and threateining to do her harm.