Fire that killed Coweta teen under investigation


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Reported by: Sharon Phillips
Updated: 6/17/2013 5:21 pm Published: 6/17/2013 3:41 pm


A Wagoner County family is trying to cope with the loss of its 13-year-old son and home.

"It's very sad, and it's the worst thing that could happen to a family, to lose a child," said Cody Shanks’ uncle, George McMillen.

Investigators told FOX23 the deadly fire may have been set on purpose.

On Sunday, family members told FOX23 they thought the 13-year-old was following them out the door of the burning home, near East 121st Street South and South 267th East Avenue.

They said for some reason, he stayed behind.

On Monday, an investigator took photos of the home and told FOX23 they believe this fire could have been set on purpose.

Shanks’ family gathered at its former home and tried to understand how this could happen.

Shanks’ uncle is now sharing his home with his family members.

"All of that can be replaced, but it's just the loss of Cody that can't be replaced," he said.

Andy and Ruthann Hellinger live across the street from the Shanks, and they would often get a knock on their door from Cody and his little sister.

"He would come over and go fishing in our pond, and so he was here. He came by on Saturday to go fishing," said Ruthann.

Andy told FOX23 he loved watching the two of them fish because of how excited they would get when they caught one.

"They were enjoyable to watch, and it was really enjoyable to watch them fish because they would catch them little small perch, and it was catching a monster for an adult, you know," he said.

Early Sunday morning, the Hellingers woke up to a different sound outside.

"We woke up, and the house was on fire and the fire trucks were there and paramedics," they said.

Six people were inside when it caught fire, and everyone but Cody made it out alive.

Investigators are looking into the exact cause of this fire. One investigator told FOX23 off camera that something doesn't add up, and that's why he's out here to try to determine the exact cause for the family and for insurance purposes.

Cody had diabetes, and his family is asking that instead of flowers, people donate to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

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