She was initially called a hero, who saved her young son from their burning home. Now, that Puyallup mom is accused of setting the fire herself. Investigators with the Pierce County Sheriff's Department arrested Melinda Sayers on Thursday.
Detectives say Sayers intentionally started a fire at her 107th Avenue Court East home on April 1st. She and her two-year-old son were the only ones home at the time.
Neighbors remember seeing her pull herself and the young boy through a front window. Many praised Sayers for her quick action and bravery.
"To me she seemed like in a state of shock," said neighbor Jessica MacDougall. "Overwhelmed with the fire and didn't have much to say and was kinda shocked. Then once Chris got here, he ran over to his wife and son to make sure they were okay."
Investigators said Melinda's husband, Chris, is not a suspect and was not aware of what his wife allegedly did.
Relatives, friends, neighbors and even strangers rallied around the family in the days and weeks that followed the fire, which they thought was accidental at the time. Thousands of dollars in donations poured for the Sayers.
They'd heard the family's sad story and felt compelled to help. Not only had they lost everything in the fire, the couple had an infant baby that had spent nearly a year at Seattle Children's Hospital.
The family even got to meet Russell Wilson during his visits to the hospital. Melinda Sayers is shown in a video produced by the hospital, thanking the quarterback for the time he spent with her daughter.
"Russell, we cannot thank you enough for coming to see our little miracle baby," she says in the video. "She's obviously a huge Seahawks fan and her dad and I are as well. Definitely the highlight of the visit was you praying over her and giving her your blessing. That's something we hold dear to our heart."
Baby Abigail was born premature and suffered complications as a result. She survived several brain surgeries over the course of her 11-month-old life. She died at the hospital one day after the fire.
On Thursday, Pierce County investigators said Abigail had been due to return home on April 2nd,
They say Melinda Sayers eventually admitted to setting the fire because "she had too much going on" and wanted her daughter to stay at the hospital.
"It's really sad," said MacDougall. "My heart breaks for Melinda though too, that she didn't feel like she could reach out to get the help."
Sayers is now being held in the Pierce County Corrections Center, on suspicion of Arson in the 1st degree. She is due in court on Friday.
The family's home in Puyallup is unlivable for Chris Sayers and his surviving children.