CHICAGO — The 4- and 7-year-old brothers who survived a deadly Englewood fire Saturday got a surprise visit from Batman Christmas morning, along with police officers and dispatchers bearing gifts.
The boys' younger siblings, Javaris Davis, 2, and Jariyah Meakens, 3, were killed in the early Saturday morning blaze investigators said was caused by a hot plate and two space heaters being used to heat the apartment.
The children reportedly were left alone in the apartment so their mother, 23-year-old Tatiana Meakens, and aunt, 22-year-old Britany Meakens, could attend parties.
The two women were each charged with two counts of causing the death of a child, a felony, and endangering the life or health of a child, a misdemeanor.
They are being held in Cook County Jail, each on a $100,000 bond.
The two older boys, 4-year-old Marquis, and 7-year-old Darnell, are now staying in an undisclosed Department of Children and Family Services facility — so police and dispatchers who assisted in the response to their home decided to cheer them up with donated gifts and a visit from one of their favorite superheroes: Batman.
Brenda Jones and Michelle Dennis were among the police dispatchers working that morning and wanted to do something to help the boys, so they put the word out and gathered donated gifts for them.
"I said, 'What can I do? What are their sizes? What do they need?'" Jones said. "It snowballed. We got so many donations, it just kept coming."
Dennis, who has a 6-year-old, started work that morning at 6 a.m. and was crushed to hear of what happened.
"It was tough, it was tough on everybody," she said. "It was tough because it's Christmastime. It was tough because you think of your own children."
When another dispatcher, Kathleen Kordelewski, heard the boys liked Batman, she immediately asked her son Bobby if he wanted to help out.
Bobby Kordelewski, 19, who is autistic but highly functional, loves dressing up as Batman and jumped at the chance to cheer the boys up. The older boy, Darnell, even donned his own Batman outfit after Kordelewski arrived.
"They were super excited," Kordelewski said. "I was glad I could make them laugh."