Walling deaths ruled homicide

Jessica Walling, top, and her 10-year-old son, Chevy, below, died Aug. 2, 2018, in a house fire in Bogata. Family are seeking leads in their case.

BOGATA — A 2018 house fire that caused the death of a woman and her son has officially been ruled a homicide, officials said. The family is offering a $5,000 reward for any leads in the case.

Jessica Walling and her 10-year-old son, Chevy, died Aug. 2, 2018. Autopsy reports released in October 2018 show Jackie died of smoke inhalation, however, she also sustained severe injuries before the fire began, Jessica’s mother, Jackie Clark, said. Chevy, who was diagnosed with autism, was found in the bathtub with the water running. He was removed from the home, but died shortly after on scene.

“He worshipped his mother,” Clark said. “It’s a whole different layer of grieving.”

Bogata Police Department is handling the case. Leads are slim, however, Clark said. Investigation has led to a person of interest, but no one has come forward to the police.

Bogata Police Chief David Short confirmed the department does have a suspect in the case, but said no arrests have been made yet. While he declined to provide details, the suspect has been “in and out” of the Bogata area, he said. Short also called the case “a terrible tragedy.” The fire appeared

accidental at initial examination, but autopsy results revealed foul play was involved, he said.

Chevy’s 3-year-old sister was staying with Clark that night and is the only surviving member of the family. As she gets older, she has started asking about what happened, Clark said.

“She’s asking questions, and I want to be able to tell her that (the person responsible) is in jail, not free walking around on the streets,” Clark said.

Clark said the department is doing a “phenomenal” job handling the investigation and has worked tirelessly to pursue any leads.

“I just want peace for our family and justice for our kids,” Clark said.

Macon Atkinson is a staff writer for The Paris News. She can be reached at 903-785-6963 or macon.atkinson@theparisnews.com.

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