ST. JOSEPH, Mich. (WOOD) - The man who a mother says was supposed to be watching her children told 24 Hour News 8 he didn't know they were in a Kalamazoo apartment when it caught fire last week.
Fred Glespie Jr. was arrested Feb. 18 -- the same day that 3-year-old fraternal twins Teniyah Williams and Tevin Williams Jr. and 1-year-old Tyonna Henderson died in a fire at Interfaith Apartments.
Glespie, 18, was arrested on charges unrelated to the fire.
Because those children were reportedly left home alone when the fire started, their mother Jonetta Woods has been under scrutiny.
But family of the children has told 24 Hour News 8 that Glespie was supposed to be watching the children while their mother stepped out to repay a loan from a neighbor.
"I wasn't left with the kids," Glespie told 24 Hour News 8. "That's not true."
Glespie spoke with 24 Hour News 8 from the Berrien County Jail about what happened the day of the fire.
"Everything happened too fast. It was crazy that day," he said.
He said he feels like he has been treated as a suspect in the fire, calling himself an "easy target" to take the fall because he isn't part of the affected family.
"I did nothing wrong," he said.
He said he lived with his sister at the apartment complex and was seeing Woods -- though he doesn't call himself her boyfriend. Nonetheless, he said, he loved Woods' children and worries that he may be pinned with charges.
Glespie said he wasn't supposed to be watching the children and didn't know they were in the apartment.
"I thought no kids wasn't in there," he said. "I thought nobody was in there until they told me."
Once he realized that the kids were still trapped inside, Glespie said, he tried to go in the apartment, but the fire was too hot.
"I couldn't get in. It was too hot," he said. "It was too late. I tried my best."
He said he was close with Teniyah, Tevin and Tyonna, as well as Woods' 4-year-old daughter, who survived the fire.
"I loved those kids. I treated them like mine. People often told me I treated them better than mine," said Glespie. "That's what's so crazy about it. She knew I cared about them more than their dads."
He said Woods' family is blaming him for the children's death and that some attacked him after the fire.
"Her people jumped on me," he said. "My head was swollen. I had a black eye. ...My life is in danger with her people."
Investigators have questioned him repeatedly about the case.
"They already looking at me like I'm a criminal," said Glespie.
Glespie said he has no idea what started the fire.
"I believe it as an accident," he said. "I asked her did she leave anything on. She said she didn't."
Glespie said Woods did leave the children alone.
"She say she was at a friend's house," he said.
He added that he had warned Woods to not leave the children alone again. She had already been investigated for leaving her eldest daughter alone in a sweltering apartment when the girl was 1 year old in 2009.
"I told her to stop doing that. It's just a matter of time," said Glespie.
Glespie said the fire is all he thinks about as he sits in jail. He fears he may yet face charges connected to the fire.
"I don't see why people keep trying to point the finger. I don't understand that," he said.
Glespie has an extensive criminal past that started when he was 11 years old.
Investigators have not yet said what caused the fire and the investigation continues.
A memorial is scheduled Thursday night for three young siblings who died in an apartment fire 10 months ago.
A donation account has been set up to help the family with its search to find a missing loved one.
Wind chills will be in the single figures Thursday, with snowfall totals in the 1- to 3-inch range.