A mother and grandmother lost their lives in an Austell house fire, which authorities believe was deliberately set. Cobb County Police Department responded to the incident on Janet Lane on March 12 at 5:34 a.m.
Upon entering the burning home, firefighters discovered 74-year-old Michele LaCroix and 52-year-old Andrea Nall. Both women were transported to a local hospital but ultimately succumbed to their injuries.
Several animals also perished in the fire, with Cobb County Animal Control taking the surviving animals into their care.
Police arrested 30-year-old Robert Colt Smith of Mableton in connection with the case. He is currently being held at the Cobb County Adult Detention Center without bond, facing charges of murder and arson.
Authorities suspect that Smith targeted the family, and the investigation is ongoing.
The victims’ family is devastated by the tragedy. Elizabeth Nall, Andrea’s daughter, expressed her grief, stating that this would be the hardest thing the family would ever have to endure. The family did not comment on Smith or why the police believe he targeted the home.
Court records reveal that Smith had a history of violence, having been arrested at least three times for assaulting a family member. His most recent arrest occurred in February, less than a month before the fatal fire.
Neighbor Beth Mimbs, whose son owned the house rented by the family for a decade, recalled the intensity of the fire, describing how it prevented her and her husband from attempting a rescue. Mimbs remembered the close relationship between Andrea and Michele, describing their loss as heartbreaking.
To support the grieving family, friends have organized online fundraising efforts to help them rebuild their lives. A memorial service is planned for Sunday to honor the victims.
Andrea’s son, Tyler Nall, paid tribute to his mother and grandmother, describing Andrea as a pillar of the South Cobb community. He highlighted her kindness and compassion, extending her love and support to not just her family but to many others who considered her a mother figure.