DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - A 34-year-old man has been arrested on multiple counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder after a Florida mother was found stabbed to death inside her Daytona Beach apartment, which was then set on fire with her three children "left to die" inside, Daytona Beach Police Chief Jakari Young told reporters Wednesday morning.
"This is the most horrendous and horrific crime that I've experienced throughout my entire career," Chief Young said. "I want to start with my victims. So first and foremost, I want to extend my heartfelt condolences to the family of the victims."
Watch Daytona Beach Police press conference below:
Charles Ivy, 34, was arrested near his home in Ormond Beach, Chief Young said. He was booked into jail on two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted felony murder, and arson.
On Tuesday, police responded to an apartment fire shortly before midnight at 1200 Belville Road and found Apartment 39 "fully engulfed with flames and large plumes of black smoke emitting from the residence windows and the door," according to the police report.
Firefighters found 30-year-old Den'Jah Moore, the children's mother, with multiple stab wounds inside. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Firefighters also found three other children inside the home – a 10-month-old in a crib, a 4-year-old, and a 5-year-old. All three were rushed to a nearby hospital. The 10-month-old later died. The other two children remain at the hospital with critical injuries, officials said.
Chief Young said none of the children were physically harmed or stabbed.
"Their injuries were as a result of being left to die in a fully engulfed fire," he said.
He said Ivy is the father of at least two of the children. A motive is not known, but Chief Young described the case as "domestic in nature."
According to the report, there were at least two fires inside the apartment. The first fire is believed to have started in a bedroom. The second was in the kitchen where all four of the burners on the stove were reportedly on, as well as burnt paper debris and a box, the report said.
Detectives initially tried to contact Ivy to let him know two of his children were at the hospital, but those attempts were not successful. Hours later, detectives witnessed Ivy loading suitcases and bags into an SUV at his home in Ormond Beach.
He was pulled over near Tomoka Avenue and South Yonge Street. He reportedly declined to be transported to the police department or speak with detectives. Chief Young said evidence puts Ivy at the apartment during the time the alleged deaths and fires could have occurred, which gave them probable cause to arrest him.
According to the report, Ivy did eventually talk with detectives. Those details were redacted in the report. However, it does mention that Ivy said he was unable to think of anyone who would want to hurt the mother or her children.
Family members tell FOX 35 Den’Jah Moore was planning to come over to their house for Thanksgiving.
"Everybody is still shocked, in disbelief," said Tanisha Pennock, Moore’s cousin. "We were just on the phone talking about preparing for tomorrow."
Moore’s cousins say they all grew up like sisters.
"A heart of gold," Pennock said. "She’s so nice I just don’t understand what happened, what transpired."
They say they didn’t know Charles Ivy at all, just that Moore dropped the kids off with him on weekends.
"This is the mother of your kids," said Princess Delices, another one of Moore’s cousins. "You’re the reason she’s down here and for you to do something is just crazy. You can’t even describe how we felt when we heard the details of what happened."
The family said they would celebrate Den'Jah on Thanksgiving Day, remembering the good times they shared. They continue to pray for the two children who remain hospitalized.