Two children died in a fire on the Fort Campbell Army post. The Fort Campbell Fire Department is investigating the fire along with the Kentucky State Fire Marshal's office, Fort Campbell Military Police and the Criminal Investigation Division. more>>
GAINESVILLE, Ga. - The wife of a Fort Campbell soldier appeared in federal court in Gainesville Tuesday after U.S. marshals arrested her for setting a fatal fire.
Billi Jo Smallwood is charged with setting a fire that killed her two young children. She also faces federal charges of attempting to destroy a residential facility for members of the U.S. Army.
She appeared in federal court in Gainesville Tuesday after her arrest.
According to the Times of Gainesville, she turned to her husband who watched from the gallery and mouthed the words, "I didn't do it."
Her husband, Wayne Smallwood is a soldier with the Third Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division. The family lived in an area of the Army post housing known as Lee Village. Fort Campbell is an Army post that straddles the Kentucky and Tennessee state line.
Sam Fagan, 9, and 2-year-old Rebekah Smallwood, were killed in the May 2007 fire. Wayne Smallwood was injured. He broke his leg trying to save the children.
Billi Jo Smallwood also was injured. She escaped with their infant daughter, Nevaeh. She was burned and required skin grafts at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Sources said there are two possible motives for the fire. One theory is that she intended to kill the older children from another marriage so she and her husband could start fresh with their toddler daughter.
Another possibility was that she was trying to kill her husband so she could collect $500,000 in life insurance.
NewsChannel 5 has also learned Wayne Smallwood was scheduled to go to trial in Georgia this week on domestic violence charges. The Smallwoods are separated, according to the Associated Press, and Billi Jo Smallwood lives in Brunswick, Ga.
Billi Jo Smallwood remains in federal custody. She will return to Kentucky to face charges.
If convicted, Smallwood could face execution or life in prison.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)