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Meth manufacturing linked to fire that killed 7-year-old boy, resulted in charges against mother

INDIANAPOLIS – Investigators say an Indianapolis mother caused the deadly fire that killed her 7-year-old son during an attempt to make meth.

Investigators said Jessica Rogers was responsible for the Dec. 8 fire. Charges against her include murder, arson, neglect of a dependent and cocaine possession.

Rogers’ son, Dreydon Webb, died in the fire, which broke out in the early morning hours at an apartment building near Elder and West Washington Street. The boy didn’t live there but was visiting his mother.

Several people jumped out of windows to escape, including Rogers. She told police she was trying to grab Dreydon while trying to leave the building, but couldn’t hold onto him while navigating through the intense heat and smoke. A total of 15 people escaped, including Rogers’ boyfriend.

The building did not have any smoke detectors.

About a week after the fire, neighbors saw investigators combing through the charred remnants of the building, checking trash cans and taking pictures for evidence.

According to the probable cause affidavit, investigators found “suspicious burn patterns indicating a liquid accelerant” in the building. Investigators said Rogers attempted to manufacture meth using the “shake and bake” method—an attempt that resulted in the fire that tore through the building and killed her son.

According to court documents, one witness said Rogers told her, “I messed up and it blew up in my face” shortly after the fire. An Indianapolis Fire Department firefighter recalled Rogers asking, “Am I going to jail for this?” while on the scene.

Rogers suffered first- and second-degree burns to her hands and first- and second-degree “splash burns” to her chin and neck. Investigators didn’t observe any burns on her eyelashes, eyebrows, or hair. According to the probable cause, the injuries were “indicative of a rapid high heat thermal event” that occurs “in front of a person possibly holding an object with splashing from some type of liquid or from direct contact.”

When police asked Rogers why she left her son alone inside, she stated “the fire was too hot” and “I couldn’t stand the heat, it felt like acid was burning me.” She then said she tried to get her son to safety, stating that “she had a hold of him twice.” When asked how the boy got away, Rogers said he got loose because he was wearing a hooded sweatshirt. Police informed her that the boy was only wearing blue jeans when investigators found him.

Rogers admitted to taking multiple types of drugs on several occasions, including “Hydrocodone, Vicodin, Lortab, methamphetamine, Xanax, marijuana and alcohol.” The night before the fire, she said she’d had four Xanax, marijuana and a half-pint of alcohol.

The interviewing officer noted that Rogers “showed very little if any remorse or emotion” regarding her son’s death.

Police also interviewed Rogers’ boyfriend, who said Rogers was a frequent drug user. He told investigators he heard Dreydon cry out, “Help me, Mommy” four or five times during the fire and thought Rogers had helped her son. He jumped out of a bedroom window.

Rogers jumped out shortly after that. Her boyfriend noted that she was by herself and asked her, “Where is Drey (Dreybon)? How could you leave him in there?” During a subsequent interview, the boyfriend also said he heard the boy yelling for help inside the apartment.

A search of Rogers’ apartment revealed “five used needle syringes, three new needle syringes, one narcotics pipe, one syringe plunger, one plastic funnel and one rubber IV tourniquet band.”  One of the needles later tested positive for cocaine, according to the probable cause affidavit.

A toxicology screening of Rogers showed that she tested positive for several drugs, including amphetamines, methamphetamines, benzodiazepines, marijuana, cocaine and opiates, court documents said. Records also showed that neither medical crews nor hospital staff had administered any narcotics prior to Rogers’ being admitted to the hospital after the fire.

Several neighbors described a chemical or “Tiki-Torch” smell during the fire. Investigators ruled out any known accidental or natural causes, and said the characteristics of the fire—and Rogers’ injuries—seemed to be consistent with a fire caused by the manufacture of methamphetamine, namely the “shake and bake” method.