For just one night, Tanisha Armstrong and her little daughter returned to their West Babylon apartment, despite problems with the landlord and the lack of electricity.
It was a fatal decision.
Family: Carbon monoxide victims avoided apartment
Armstrong and Talani Johnson had been living with family for weeks, her relatives said, but went back Monday because the next day Talani Johnson, 4, a bubbly girl who liked her princess-themed bedroom, was going to have her photo taken for the first time in her Head Start class.
Everything they needed -- the outfit, hair clips, curler and more -- was in the apartment in a two-story Sunrise Highway house that town officials condemned in June but was still occupied.
"She didn't want to be in the house," her mother, Bettina Lewis, said Thursday at her Hempstead apartment. "She wouldn't have went in there if she knew it had been condemned."
The mother, 24, and daughter, died Tuesday after carbon monoxide fumes from a kerosene heater and basement generator filled the house. They were found in their second-floor beds. A downstairs tenant, Ricardo Pearce, 27, also was dead at the scene.
On a day when other families were giving thanks, Armstrong's family, cousins and friends had harsh words for landlord Wilson Milord, whose rental house had been condemned by the town because it did not have multifamily permits.
A day before the tragedy, Milord, 47, appeared in court to answer multiple Babylon Town code violations of illegally renting out the home. A judge adjourned the hearing.