Bond set for mother in jail on criminal charges after West Chester fire that killed 2 children

Four children where home alone when fire broke out, officials said.

Bond has been for a mother who is facing criminal charges, including two counts of involuntary manslaughter, for a September fire in West Chester Twp. that killed two children.

Ashley J. Rhiles, 30, was indicted by a Butler County grand jury Wednesday for two counts of involuntary manslaughter and four counts of felony child endangering, according to court records.

She was arraigned Thursday in Butler County Common Pleas Court by Magistrate Matt Reed, who set bond at $750,000. Reed, magistrate for Judge Noah Power, who will hear the case, ordered GPS monitoring and no contact with the biological children if she is released on bond.

Rhiles was booked into the Butler County Jail on Wednesday night.

Four children were home alone Sept. 17, 2022, when fire broke out around 12:15 p.m. in an apartment at the Meadow Ridge complex, 5259 Aster Park Drive, according to fire officials and prosecutors.

Two of the children, a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old, died a few days later.

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said Rhiles left the children in the residence unsupervised to do some shopping when the deadly fire occurred.

“It is a horrible case,” Gmoser said. “As a person, my heart goes out to her or any mother or father that would be in that situation. But as a prosecutor, I can’t make that call other than the fact she has to be prosecuted for it. To do anything less demeans parental responsibility that every parent has.”

The fire was investigated by the Ohio State Fire Marshal Office. Andy Ellinger, SFM public information officer, said Thursday the investigation is still open. He could not give a cause for the fire.

“I am unable to share additional investigatory details at this time,” Ellinger said in an email.

Shortly after the fire, the township released two 911 calls reporting the fire, with one caller repeating what someone else near her at the scene was reporting.

“I see smoke and hear glass breaking; she said the windows are busting out and everything,” the female caller said. When the dispatcher asked if anyone was inside, “She said she don’t think so cause her car isn’t here.”

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