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Pregnant woman, son found dead in Shenandoah Junction mobile home fire

Jessica Cave and Dominic Estevez were identified as the victims

January 24, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com
  • Jessica Cave, 24, and her son, Dominic, of Shenandoah Junction, W.Va., died when the mobile home where they lived was heavily damaged in a fire Monday night.
Photo courtesy of Osvaldo Estevez

SHENANDOAH JUNCTION, W.Va. — A woman who was seven months pregnant and her 2-year-old son were found dead Monday night after the mobile home they lived in was engulfed in smoke and flames, according to family members and police.

Jessica Cave, 24, and her son, Dominic, were identified Tuesday as the victims by her fiance, Joseph Estevez. The couple’s unborn child was a girl, according to Estevez who was in Morgantown, W.Va., at work when he learned they had died.

The cause of the fire at 41 Fifth St. in Shenandoah Junction in Jefferson County, W.Va., is under investigation by the state fire marshal’s office, but officials said they do not believe there was any foul play. The victims were taken to Charleston, W.Va., for an autopsy, according to Jesse Jones, chief of staff of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

The fire was reported at 10:07 p.m. and was “well involved” when firefighters arrived, according to Shepherdstown Fire Chief Ross Morgan.

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The fire damage appeared heaviest in the front of the trailer in what Estevez’s father, Robert Estevez, said was the kitchen-living room area.

Only a small part of the white trailer with faded green trim remained standing Tuesday. The steps and small porch at the front entrance led to nothing but the floor. The metal shell of what appeared to be a refrigerator stood nearby. Other appliances were strewn in the grass.

A set of steps on the back end of the mobile home led to what appeared to a soot-covered interior, and the bedroom-hallway area where Robert Estevez said he was told firefighters found the victims — Cave lying next to her son.

Neighbor Darrell Cummings said he saw an unusual night light glow in a back window of the trailer when he took his two Chihuahuas outside before going to bed.

As he walked closer to the trailer, Cummings said he saw a few small flames inside that looked like orange fingers.

Cummings said he repeatedly banged on the trailer and tried to get inside, but the door, which felt warm, was jammed, and he didn’t have an ax to break inside.

“There was no smoke detector going off and no screams for help, nothing happening,” Cummings said.
And it didn’t take long for the trailer, which Property Manager Ricky Crum estimated was built in the 1970s, to be engulfed in flames, according to Cummings.

Morgan said the fire was brought under control in about five minutes.

Firefighters from Independent Fire Co. in Ranson, W.Va., were first to arrive at 10:19 p.m., Jones said.

Firefighters from Citizens Fire Co. in Charles Town, W.Va., Bakerton Fire Department and Baker Heights in neighboring Berkeley County also responded, Jones said.

The fire did not appear to damage other neighboring homes, which were evacuated.

Estevez’s father said the couple’s move to the trailer about two months ago was temporary and they were planning to move to a three-bedroom home in Inwood this week.

“Three more days and they would have been out of here,” Estevez said while searching through the debris for personal items that could be salvaged.

Among the items he found was a letter that Cave wrote to her son about the day he was born.
“She was a good mother,” Robert Estevez said after reading part of the hand-written letter before folding it up and putting it away.

Visibly upset and at times wiping away tears, Estevez said the family’s loss was “the big bang.”
“I’m just hoping that my son will keep it together.”

Estevez said his grandson had just started talking and shared a mobile phone recording of the child.    
“’I love ya’ he said to me,” Estevez said, smiling. “He had a way of transmitting a hug — his hug was like ‘I never want to let you go,’” Estevez said.

Once he hugged you, you were “hooked,” Estevez said.

Cave’s fiance said he met her through a mutual friend more than five years ago and were planning to get married soon.

“She believed in me when nobody else would,” Estevez said. “I loved her.”

Friends and coworkers of Cave said she was enrolled in the medical assisting program at Blue Ridge Community and Technical College and planned to eventually become a nurse.

Teresa Wilson, who had three classes at Blue Ridge CTC with Cave and worked with her at Mountain View Diner in Charles Town for a number of years, was Dominic’s godmother and his mom’s best friend.

“We were inseparable,” Wilson said. “She was always there for me.”

Wilson said Cave had been staying at her apartment just before she found the mobile home.

“I wish she stayed with me,” Wilson said.

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