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Staff and Houma C

HOUMA, La. -- Amother wanted by police in connection with the death of her two children in fire has been taken into custody by police. The father of the children remains at large.
According to the Houma Police Department, Vaneshia Valentine was located by police at a car wash on Grand Calliou Road just after midnight. She was taken in custody and charged with manslaughter and possession of marijuana.
Police are still looking for Romell Welsh, the father of the two children.

Valentine and Welsh, the parents of two unattended toddlers killed in a March 15 house fire in Houma, may have argued before leaving for an extended period, according to police.

'We can actually say that the parents left their home approximately 30 minutes before the fire started. We don't know exactly where they went, but surveillance footage from cameras in the neighborhood and from several local businesses show us that they were quite a distance away from the house when the fire began,' Houma Police Lt. Dana Coleman said today.

On Tuesday, Valentine, had agreed to turn herself in to face two counts of manslaughter, but police haven't been able to contact the father, Romell Welsh Sr., Coleman said.

'She told us that she's going to come turn herself in, but will that happen? It's a waiting game,' he said Tuesday.

The fire at 530 Hobson St. that killed 2-year-old Romell Welsh Jr. and 1-year-old Ro'Miya Welsh began about 1:30 a.m. after a piece of burning clothing was deposited into the kitchen garbage can, State Fire Marshal Deputy Chief Brant Thompson said last week.

'We've heard several reasons why the fire may have started. We have heard that maybe there was an argument between the parents where one of them may have burned the other's clothes before leaving the home,' Coleman said.

Police would have arrested Valentine and Welsh at the conclusion of Monday services for their children, but warrants hadn't been obtained, Coleman said.

Though it is sometime harder for police to make an arrest after a search has been made public, Coleman said the agency is confident Welsh and Valentine will be found.

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