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CROWN POINT — The mother of two young children killed in Sunday's fire at Lakeshore Dunes Apartment Complex faces charges on allegations she was at a neighbor's apartment when her children started the fire on a kitchen stove top, according to court records filed Tuesday.

Kristen A. Gober, 33, of Gary, was charged Tuesday in Lake Criminal Court with two counts of neglect of a dependent resulting in death, one count of neglect of a dependent and possession of marijuana.

Gober is the mother of Kailani Gober, 2, and Khristopher Gober, 4.

The siblings died of smoke inhalation from a fire reported at 11:40 a.m. on the fourth floor of their apartment building, 5820 Forest Court, in Gary. Firefighters battled the fire for more than four hours, but the building sustained heavy fire, smoke and water damage, causing dozens of residents to seek refuge at area shelters.

A detective dispatched at 2:45 p.m. to the building learned Gober's 6-year-old son was rescued by tenants, records state.

The boy told police his mother left him and his siblings alone Saturday night and never returned home.

He said he and Khristopher were playing with the stove Sunday morning when they caught a blanket on fire. As the fire spread, the three siblings huddled under a blanket in their mother's room. The 6-year-old boy said he eventually fled the apartment.

The building's maintenance man said the children's mother was at his apartment when the fire started, according to records. He said they spent the previous night drinking vodka and she fell asleep in his bedroom.

He told police she was still there at 10 a.m. when he awoke.

He was getting ready for work when he heard the building's fire alarm, he said.

He went searching for the fire's origins, he said, and saw Gober flee the building through a back door. She told the maintenance man the fire was in her apartment, but he said she did not say her children were still there.

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The maintenance man went upstairs and found Gober's 6-year-old son shirtless in the apartment's stairwell, records state.

Gober was arrested at a restaurant near the apartment building. She vomited at the station before questioning.

Gober told police she attempted to get her children out of her apartment, but there was too much smoke. She said she was in a state of shock and could not watch the fire, so she began walking down the road.

She told police she was in the building's lower level doing laundry when the fire started, and that she was at the maintenance man's apartment Saturday night, but she slept in her children's room, records state.

She admitted she did not tell firefighters about her children or call for help. She said everyone knew the children were inside, and it was a “lost cause” to tell firefighters.

Gober claimed she was at her apartment's door for five minutes trying to rescue her children, but detectives noted her clothing did not smell like smoke, records state.

Police found a half-smoked marijuana cigarette in Gober's purse during an inventory of her items.

Gober is jailed without bond.

The Gary Police Department is asking anyone with information about Gober to contact Lake County/Gary metro Homicide Unit at 219-755-3855 or the Crime Tip Line at 866-CRIME-GP.


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Lake County Courts and Social Justice Reporter

Steve covers Lake County courts and social justice issues for The Times. The UW-Milwaukee graduate joined The Times in 2016 after reporting on criminal justice in New Mexico and Wisconsin.