Seven children left homeless after shooting, house fire

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Seven children, a mother and a father are packed into a motel room after they say they were forced out of their home.

First their car was shot up, and then their house was set on fire.

Police arrested their neighbor, Donxabe Burton, for the crimes.

“I got seven kids with me and it’s too outrageous,” said Larry Smith.

They are eating ramen noodles and cereal without milk. The family ended up at the Governor’s Inn this week after police say their neighbor, Burton, shot up their family car and tried to burn down their house.

“It all started when his mother's car window had got busted and he said one of my kids had did it and I kept telling him my kids have nothing to do with that,” said Smith.

Police say last Wednesday, Burton shot up Larry's car, riddling it with bullets, making it undriveable. Two days later, police say he came back and set garbage on fire, trying to burn the family out of their house.

“Right now I am trying to reach out for help,” said Smith.

WREG we went back to the home on South Cooper. The suspect's brother came out with quite a different story to tell.

“You don't think he did this?” asked Reporter Sabrina Hall.

“No. I know he didn't do this,” said Don Burton, the suspect’s brother.

“He didn’t light a fire? He didn't shoot up the car?” asked Hall.

“No, because I was in the house and the police seen me when I came outside. Why would he try to burn his own brother up?” said Burton.

Both of the families lived in the same duplex. He says Larry and his wife, Anita Defell, had motives to light the fire themselves.

‘When the fire happened, four days earlier they had been evicted already, but they were still in the house,” said Burton.

Burton couldn't answer why Larry would shoot up his own car.

“But my brother didn't do nothing like that,” said Burton.

While Burton hopes police release his brother, no matter who is telling the truth, the children are the ones who are suffering.

“They are discouraged. They are trying to figure out ‘where we going to go?’ ‘Where are we going to be?’" said Smith.

If you want to help the children, the family is staying at the Governor's Inn on Mount Moriah until Friday. That's when their money runs out and they plan to go to a shelter.

As for Burton, his mother says the family's story is untrue and she is working to bond her son out of jail.


  • 1midtownmike

    Pathetic behavior and it continues to worsen.. There will not be enough of a tax base left by 2017 and Memphis will file for bankruptcy. Bond holders will be stiffed by the local courts and federal funding will come to a halt. It’s coming ya’ll.

  • NoMoreMrsNiceGuy

    I hear the people in New York City and Houston are willing to help with the boycott of Memphis businesses, perhaps they can take this family in. I mean they are very supportive and involved in the local area being how many hundred miles away? This city is just a smaller, slower version of Detroit, maybe the UN can help us.

  • notsure

    Sad, the authorities should put the family out and make them stay in hotel rooms and this family live there. This is a prime example of why we have law enforcement and courts no one has the right to take the law into there own hands.

  • Eric Worley

    I would like to make a donation to those children. ..I come from a broken home. ..clearly those children have been through a traumatic situation. …I’m in Tupelo miss..but I am from north Memphis. .we need to reach out and help others. ..people have help me..please..send address. ..I also have 5 girls so I would like to know if the kids need clothing. .

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