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Mother of twin boys who died in Batavia fire charged with endangerment

BATAVIA – Heather M. Ace, 25, the mother of the twin 2-year-old boys who died in a late night fire in the family’s State Street Road home May 20, was charged Wednesday with two misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

An investigation determined she had left the boys, Michael J. and Micah G. Gard, alone in the home for about 90 minutes without providing or arranging for adult supervision, according to the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office.

Ace was issued an appearance ticket for a Batavia Town Court proceeding on Oct. 1.

“She met us at the jail for processing,” Jerome Brewster, chief deputy of investigations, said Wednesday. “We know the places she went, what she did and with whom during that period.

“Since charges have been lodged relative to all of this, I am not at liberty to say more at this time,” Brewster added. “I will say that she remained in Batavia. Additionally, she did not go to a bar.”

Initially, investigators were told that Ace informed her parents, who lived next door, that she had put the boys to bed and that she was running to the store.

The fire, reported to the Batavia Town Fire Department at about 10 p.m., engulfed the rear of the first floor near the boys’ bedroom in the duplex at 8157 State Street Road.

Both died of smoke inhalation and were pronounced dead at the scene.

The case was investigated jointly by the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, the Genesee County District Attorney’s Office, the Genesee County Emergency Management Office and the Town of Batavia Fire Department.

The cause of the fire remains undetermined, according to the sheriff’s office. Investigators said it began in or near the children’s bedroom.

Joe Burke, who grew up in the house that burned, rented it to Heather Ace, who lived there with her sister, Erika, and the children. He also rented the house next door to her parents, Brian and Tracy Ace, who since have moved to the Town of Stafford.

Burke said Wednesday that he was in the process of evicting Heather Ace prior to the fire because the apartment was filthy and she neglected the property. He noted that while she lived there, “a lot of cars (were) coming up and down the street” and that it’s quiet now.

Burke added that he thought the charges against her were too lenient.

“She should have been charged with more than that,” he said. “Those kids should have had a right to live.”

Burke, who also lives on State Street Road, said he plans to build a single-family dwelling on the now-vacant lot where the house stood. He said the father of the twins planted two memorial trees at the site.

The Genesee County District Attorney Lawrence J. Friedman said that “based on the current charges,” the misdemeanor case against Ace is not destined to be presented to the county grand jury. Neither Ace or legal counsel representing her could be reached to comment.

Genesee correspondent Mike Pettinella contributed to this report.


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