(WMC) - Jesse Townsend lll appeared before a judge for the first time Monday after a fire on Friday that neighbors say could have been prevented.
Neighbors in the Pendleton West apartments have just one question:
"What was going through his mind when he done something like that?" apartment resident Faye Jackson said.
Townsend is charged with child abuse and neglect.
Police say he left his three kids—ages 2, 5, and 6—home alone in his apartment Friday.
When the apartment caught fire, construction workers pulled the three kids to safety before the smoke and fire took their lives.
"That isn't the first time … he had left them kids in the house a many a days, by they (sic) self, so it isn't the first time he done that," Jackson added.
Neighbors say the kids' mother works during the day.
They say many times, their father leaves shortly after she goes to work, and he does not come back for quite a while.
Torinda Pollard says she plays with the three small children a lot during the day, and on Monday she's counting her blessings.
"It doesn't take that long for anything to happen, and that's why I'm just thankful they still alive and OK," Pollard said.
Family members say those three small children are living with other family members. Meanwhile, Townsend is still in jail under a $50,000 bond. He's due back in court July 28.