Police Suspect Boy Died before Fire; Mother, Man Charged

Article excerpt

On the day Jonathan Seibert was supposed to turn 13, his mother was arrested for killing him.

Seibert, who was bedridden with cerebral palsy, was found dead last Wednesday after a fire engulfed the trailer where he lived.

His brother, Darian W. Seibert, 17, was burned and is in serious condition at St. John's Mercy Medical Center in Creve Coeur. Donald L. Rector, 17, a senior at Rolla High School, also died in the blaze. Police have arrested Patrice Seibert, Jonathan's mother. She was arraigned Tuesday on charges of first-degree murder, second-degree murder and first-degree arson. Police say that Seibert, a 39-year-old former maintenance worker, schemed with an acquaintance, Derrick W. Roper, 20, of Rolla, to kill her son. Roper was slightly injured in the fire. Police believe he started the deadly blaze. He was arraigned on the same charges. Both are being held without bond. Both are scheduled to return to court on Feb. 25 to identify their attorneys. Authorities refused to elaborate on the relationships between Roper, Rector and the Seibert family. They would say only that they were all acquainted. The state Fire Marshal's Office labeled the fire arson. Phelps County Prosecutor Patrick L. King said no decision had been made on whether to seek the death penalty. One of the key witnesses is Wes Ragan, a neighbor who lives across the street and was the first one to arrive at the burning trailer. Ragan said he noticed the trailer on fire around 7 p.m. Feb. 12. He called 911 and ran to the trailer. There he found Darian Seibert lying on the ground, on fire. "He was burnt real bad," Ragan said. "He was smoldering and flaming up." Ragan said he helped put out the flames on Seibert. Then Roper came around the side of the trailer. Ragan asked Roper if anyone else was in the trailer. Roper said no. …