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ST. LOUIS (AP) — A fast-acting paramedic dove into the frigid water of an Illinois lake where a SUV was submerged on Thursday and found an infant floating inside, then administered CPR on the hood and swam the child to shore, authorities said. The baby is expected to make a full recovery.

The infant was one of seven siblings who survived a tragic chain of events that left one person dead in a house fire and second body recovered from the lake where the baby was found.

It all began at 5:15 a.m. in Glen Carbon, Illinois, when fire broke out at a home owned by Cristy Lynn Campbell. An adult died in the fire but six children, siblings ranging up to age 14, escaped. Glen Carbon is about 30 miles east of St. Louis.

Sheriff John Lakin said the person killed has not been identified, but Campbell’s estranged husband and the father of the children, Justin Campbell, has not been accounted for.

Some of the children ran to a nearby Wal-Mart, others to a home in the neighborhood. The kids at the Wal-Mart asked an arriving worker to call 911, Lakin said.

Cristy Campbell was not in the home when firefighters arrived nor was the couple’s seventh child, a 3-month-old boy.

At 5:31 a.m., a motorist passing near Silver Lake in Highland, Illinois, about 16 miles from the home, saw a car heading down a hill toward the water and called 911, Lakin said.

Highland paramedic Todd Zobrist arrived quickly, jumped into the 46-degree water and swam 50 to 75 feet to the SUV, where he found a baby floating inside the car. He pulled the baby by the arm to the hood of the SUV, where he began CPR, then swam with the child to shore.

The child, initially unresponsive, is expected to recover and could be released Friday from a hospital in St. Charles, Missouri, Lakin said.

“Today was a tragic day all the way around because of both scenes,” Lakin said. “Fortunately, there is something good that can come of this.”

Highland Emergency Medical Services chief Brian Wilson said Zobrist’s actions were heroic.

“He definitely saved the child’s life,” Wilson said.

After finding the baby, authorities began searching the water. A body was pulled from the lake around 11:15 a.m. While the body has not been identified, Lakin said police are no longer searching for Cristy Campbell.

Court records showed that Cristy Campbell and Justin Campbell, 37, had a volatile relationship.

In 2005, before they were married, Justin Campbell was charged with domestic abuse for allegedly attacking Cristy Campbell, then known as Cristy Brueggemann, by slapping her in the head when she was pregnant. He was sentenced in March 2006 to probation and fined $500.

Despite the violence they wed on Nov. 3, 2006. She filed for legal separation in September 2010, but the matter was dismissed two months later.

In April 2012, Cristy Campbell obtained an emergency protection order against her husband and filed for divorce, alleging in court papers that he “abuses me on a weekly basis,” including punching and choking her.

“He has told me that I’m a no good wife,” Campbell wrote in her application for the protection order.

The divorce was granted in February 2013.

Lakin said Glen Carbon police have answered several calls to Campbell’s home, including some “domestic-related situations,” but he declined to elaborate.

“The Glen Carbon Police Department was aware of that house,” Lakin said.

Authorities said the children are with Illinois authorities and will be placed with relatives.


Associated Press writer Jim Suhr in Kansas City, Missouri, contributed to this report.

PHOTO: Cristy Campbell Facebook

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16 thoughts on “Apparent Murder-Suicide Orphans Seven Children

  1. I am a bit confused by the article. Apparent murder-suicide. Whom killed who? Did she set the house on fire after killing him and tried to burn him and her children alive, then drove her car in an icy lake with her 3 month old baby in the car? Not sure…can someone elaborate?

  2. What did she think? Once she married him…that the abuse was going to stop? Smh…why stay in an abusive relationship? Not only putting yourself at risk…but your children too! My sympathy lies with the children.

    • C. Jackson on said:

      I know her personally, my sister and I were good friends with her and her sister and I think you are speaking on something you don’t know all the details too..SMH at people who talk when they are ignorant to the situation..

      • Why defend this sob who abuse this lady. Wake the hell up. Enough is enough. I’m a man and I’m sick of these abuse situation. I’m crying for you ladies out there whom are in these abusive home.

  3. MissCoco on said:

    My condolences and prayers to both families affected by this tragedy. To those who asked the why stay questions, I offer this. Not all abuse is clearly recognisable. At least it wasn’t for me before I married my ex husband. Then, things get more complicated once children become involved. You try to do the best thing for them, even when the cost of the decision is at your expense. Not saying it’s the right choice… I just understand. Then, to add insult to injury, having kids with someone means even when it’s over it’s never truly over between you two. That person is forever a part of your life because of the lives you both conceived. To top it off, our flawed justice system makes a protective order nearly impossible to get a protective order without evidence of actual physical abuse. All abuse isn’t physical. Because of this, I ended up with a fractured skull and broken ribs AFTER achieving separation from my abuser. I hope I was able to shed a little light on the situation. Btw, don’t feel sorry for me…I got out alive.

  4. Okay she filed for a divorce and it was granted Feb 2013, how come they have a 3 month old baby? Or was it his?
    I will never understand how you can marry someone after they have abused you prior to the marriage. I guess I should ask Mrs. Rice. Maybe she should read this article.

  5. Why marry him if he abused you when you were dating ….probably because he promised never to do it again. She wanted to believe he wouldn’t and probably before she realized it she saw no way out. My heart goes out to those kids…no parents and knowing the violence they probably witnessed.

    • Marsha on said:

      Domestic violence, especially against men, is rarely understood by our community. As to how and why it happens cannot be easily explained if at all. I witnessed my sister friend in an abusive relationship and there was nothing I could do but be there and not be judgmental. A therapist told me when she was ready she would leave and she did. It was hard for me and my husband to watch but we never gave up on her. If you have family or a friend in an abusive relationship be kind, supportive. Judgemental attitudes make it worse.

  6. remote on said:

    I guess this is easier said than done, and something I will never understand, but if someone is abusing you BEFORE the marriage….why marry them? They are called “red flags”. Don’t let so call “love” blind you

    • Diane on said:

      Then she had 7,kids with him. If he was abusiive before the marriage, I would have been one and done. Still it’s very sad.

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