FRANKLIN, La. (KLFY) – The mother figure of the 5-year-old killed in a Louisiana house fire two weeks ago also died over the weekend.
On Monday, the St. Mary Parish Coroner’s Office identified her as 55-year-old Stephanie Joseph.
Derwin Hamilton admitted to pouring liquid over his girlfriend at the time, as well as his nephew, Joshua Hamilton, and then setting them both on fire inside a mobile home.
After initially escaping with third-degree burns, Stephanie Joseph died after a two-week hospital stay where she suffered from burns on over 60 percent of her body.
“Stephanie was a jewel,” her aunt Mary Stansberry remembers. “It just amazes me the work that she did for one person.”
Stephanie Joseph’s family and friends say they want her to be known for how she gave rather than how she was taken away.
Stansberry said: “She was more than my niece. She was my daughter. I watched her being born, watched her grow up, watched her being married, and we took on the job of taking care of the community.”
Joseph worked full-time only three minutes from where the fire occurred at the Zion Community Outreach Center Foodbank.
In addition to the food bank, she also organized parties for the community, and had over a dozen godchildren.
“She cherished them all, and that little boy Joshua was the apple of her eyes,” Stansberry recalled.
Stansberry said Joseph took 5-year-old Joshua Hamilton everywhere with her. He had also helped at the nonprofit since he was a baby.
Anthony James worked with both and said learning of Joseph’s death almost made him faint. He broke down when he mentioned his “little buddy” Joshua.
“He would jump on my back and stuff. I’d ride him on my back all around the place, put him in the basket, push him around,” James said.
“I didn’t want her to go. I didn’t want to see her suffer, but for her to be here without him, I didn’t think she would make it, so God knows best,” Stansberry concluded.
The State Fire Marshal’s Office said an upgrade in charges to murder from attempted murder is anticipated for Derwin Hamilton.
Stansberry said, “Hate the sin. Love the sinner,” and said she is praying for everyone involved.