2 mothers charged w/1st degree murder: medicated children, lit candles, went to club

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Metro Nashville Police suspect that Ryanna Davenport and Gevona Smith medicated their children, lit candles in the apartment, and went to a nightclub, leaving the kids inside. The apartment later caught on fire, and they claimed a babysitter was present, but that turned out to be a lie.

Afer two-plus months of investigation into the July 7th fatal apartment fire at the Hickory Lake complex on Apache Trail that claimed the life of 9-month-old Jream Jenkins resulted in this afternoon’s arrest of the infant girl’s mother, Ryana Davenport, on a 1st degree felony murder indictment.  Davenport, 24, is also facing two counts of aggravated child neglect, four counts of child neglect, and two counts of aggravated child endangerment in relation to injuries suffered by five other children, including her son, Jerez Broadnex, age 2, who continues to be hospitalized at Vanderbilt.

Also indicted on one count of 1st degree felony murder, two counts of aggravated child neglect, four counts of child neglect, and four counts of child endangerment is Davenport’s friend, Gevona Smith, 26, of Linden, Tennessee.  Her four children, ages 6, 4, 2 and 1, were in the apartment and were treated for smoke inhalation. 

The investigation, led by Youth Services Detective Chris Bowden with assistance from Fire Department Investigator Roy Watson, concluded that the six children were left in Davenport’s apartment alone while Davenport and Smith went to a Madison nightclub.  There is no evidence that a babysitter was ever present.  Candles lit prior to the women leaving the apartment are believed to have started the fire.  They are suspected of medicating the children so that they would sleep while they were away.

Passersby saw the fire at 2:45 a.m. on the morning of July 7th and reported it.  They said Smith’s six-year-old son ran out of the building screaming that his siblings were inside.  The mothers returned to the apartment complex after firefighters and police officers were on the scene. 

Davenport, who was taken into custody at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, is jailed in lieu of $250,000 bond.  Smith, who surrendered for booking on the indictment this morning, is being held in lieu of $150,000 bond.  Their arraignment before a Criminal Court judge is pending.

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