Chloe Williams

Family and friends of Chloe Williams, 3, have placed flowers, stuffed animals and other toys in the driveway of 208 S. Foster St. The girl died in an alleged arson fire at the residence early Wednesday morning.

MANSFIELD -- Chloe Williams loved to look at the stars and the moon each night. Finding the moon in the dark sky and telling it goodnight was a nightly bedtime ritual for the 3-year-old.

"I think she would have been an astrologist," said her father, Clifton Williams. "She loved the stars."

As far as the 39-year-old father is concerned, his angelic daughter now lives among those stars in heaven.

Chloe Williams 2

Chloe Williams, 3, died in an alleged house fire on Wednesday morning. Her father said she "never knew a stranger in her life and would hug everyone she met."

Chloe died in a house fire early Wednesday morning, trapped an in upstairs bedroom by flames and heat and smoke -- a fatal blaze allegedly caused when arsonists set a fire in an abandoned neighboring structure that quickly jumped to the home in which she was sleeping.

"Chloe never knew a stranger in her life. Even if she didn't know you, she would just walk up and give you a hug," Williams said.

"She loved animals. She loved other kids. She loved all the Disney movies. She saw 'Cinderella' the day before she died. She always wanted to be a princess.

Chloe Williams birthday

Chloe Williams, 3, blows out candles on her birthday cake. She celebrated her third birthday on June 7.

"Everybody loved Chloe," her father said. "If there was a perfect child, she was it. She was an angel here on Earth. Maybe God saw he had an angel living here and called her home."

Chloe Williams bunny

Chloe Williams, 3, loved Disney movies, animals and going to the zoo, according to her father. "She always wanted to be a princess," he said.

'MY CHILD IS IN THERE:' Williams and his girlfriend, Kashawn Hawkins, 37, who was Chloe's mother, both work nights at Newman Technology. They would drop Chloe off at her babysitter's house at 208 S. Foster St. before work and then pick her up afterward.

The babysitter was Sydney Riddle, who husband, Josh, works at Newman with Williams and Hawkins.

When they  went to work Tuesday night, the couple had their bags packed and hotel reservations made. They would be picking Chloe up and heading on a family vacation to Sea World.

"Chloe loved the whales and penguins," he said.

All three of the Newman employees, who normally get off at midnight, worked overtime Tuesday and finished work at 2 a.m. on Wednesday morning.

Mansfield authorities believe just before 2 a.m. is when Roscoe Hunter II, 18, and a 13-year-old boy were starting a fire at 212 S. Foster St., an abandoned house.

When the flames spread, neighbors saw them and pounded on the door at 208 to wake up the residents there. Officials said there were no smoke detectors in the home.

Arson folo

An alleged arson fire at an abandoned 212 S. Foster St. (left) spread to the residence at 208 S. Foster St. (right) early Wednesday morning, killing 3-year-old Chloe Williams.

Seven people escaped, including three adults and four other children. But the flames prevented anyone from getting upstairs to Chloe.

After work, Hawkins went to South Foster Street to pick up Chloe. Williams was headed back to the couple's home. He was driving on Harrington Memorial Road on the north side of Mansfield when Hawkins called him.

"She was hysterical," Williams said. "She said the house was on fire and Chloe was still in it."

Williams raced to the scene, but knew almost instantly it was too late. The flames and heat and wind prevented even Mansfield firefighters from being able to make entry to find Chloe.

"It looked like a scene from the movie 'Backdraft,'" he said. "Something told me she was gone already .. that she didn't make it. I was going to run into the house, regardless. I took my shirt off, but a deputy grabbed me and said I couldn't do it.

"I said, 'My child is in there!" and I tried to get free. But police blocked me. Maybe I would have passed away going in there. But it would have been OK. My family, my other children ... they would have understood." Williams said.

He said the coroner's office told him Chloe died from smoke inhalation. Williams takes some degree of solace in the hope his little girl died in her sleep and never felt any pain.

Williams said Brian Hunt, who lives on South Foster Street, was the real hero. He said Hunt woke up to the sounds of kids playing in the street. He went outside to check and saw the vacant house on fire.

Hunt went to 208 to wake up the Riddles and help them escape. Williams said Hunt had no idea Chloe was still upstairs. "He would have risked his own life to go in and get here had he known she was there," Williams said. "He did all that he could."

Hunter, currently charged with aggravated arson, is being held on $1 million cash bond after his arraignment Thursday in Mansfield Municipal Court. The 13-year-old male, whom police did not identify, was in the Richland County Juvenile Detention Center.

FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS PENDING: Williams said Friday evening Chloe's body had not yet been returned from the Montgomery County coroner's office, where an an autopsy was performed.

He and Hawkins were headed to the funeral home on Saturday morning to make funeral arrangements.

Chloe Williams sign

A sign in a tree outside 208 S. Foster St. remembers Chloe Williams, 3, who died early Wednesday morning in a suspected arson fire.

"A friend is going to make penguins and whales and stars and the moon to hang inside her casket," he said. "

"We will have a princess chest to put her in. We have a tierra at home. My baby is gonna be buried as a princess," he said.

Williams and Hawkins went back to South Foster Street late this week. Williams painted a final message to his daughter on the driveway. Hawkins found a pair of shoes Chloe had worn that day and Williams found pieces of the playpen the little girl had been sleeping in.

words from daddy

Clifton Williams has painted a final message to his daughter, Chloe, 3, in the driveway of the 208 S. Foster St. residence where she died in a suspected arson fire Wednesday. A candle ball is next to the message.

"You could still smell the smoke. But I went inside. I had to see where my baby had been. I had to see it for myself. I just cried my eyes out," he said.

After an exhausting, grueling time, Williams said he and Hawkins were driving to a restaurant in Ontario for a meal and a brief respite.

"As I was driving, it was warm ... so I cracked open the window behind the driver's seat. That's where Chloe would sit. I could hear her voice in my head, telling me to put the window all the way down. ... That's what I did," he said.

"My baby is in heaven now with God. I am going to make some changes in my own life now so I can make sure I get to see her again there. That's my goal in life now ... to make sure I see my daughter again."

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City editor. 30-year plus journalist. Husband. Father of 3 grown sons and also a proud grandpa. Prior military journalist in U.S. Navy, Ohio Air National Guard. -- Favorite quote: "Where were you when the page was blank?"