Daughter shares tragic moments of mom killed in blaze

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An elderly woman has died after a fire teared through her home on Detroit's east side.

Jerleen Miller's daughter tried desperately to save her but the flames were too intense. The cause of that fire still under investigation but the family says the woman was a smoker who kept a lot of books, crossword puzzles and bills right next to her bed.

"She was on fire and I couldn't get close to her," said Jocelyn Miller, the victim's daughter. "I couldn't get close to her."

Jocelyn Miller is distraught and devastated after the death of her 85-year-old mother, Jerleen Miller, killed in a fire at their home on Teppert on Detroit's east side Tuesday morning.

"I couldn't do anything for my mom," Miller said. "I was supposed to take care of her and I couldn't, I couldn't stop this."

Jocelyn said her mother stayed in her room, in her bed, much of the time. She was doing laundry when she smelled something - and went to check on her mom.

"When I opened the door the hallway was full of smoke and I started screaming for her and I went to her room," Jocelyn Miller said.

But the smoke and flames were too much.

"I couldn't get to her inside."

"I heard a lot of screaming outside," said neighbor Terrell Littleton. "I came outside, I saw the smoke and heard this lady Jocelyn screaming that her mother was on fire."

That's when neighbor Terrell Littleton tried to help.

"I tried to go in but it was too much smoke and fire," Littleton said. "So I came out and went to the back and tried to bust some windows out to go through the back, but all the doors and windows are barred up."

Detroit firefighters arrived quickly at the scene - but were unable to save Jerleen Miller.

"It's being treated as an accidental fire," said Sgt. Mike Russell.

A tragic accident - and now concern for Jocelyn, unable to save her mom.

"It's horrible, it's very horrible," Littleton said. "Her whole intentions of being here was to take care of her mother and now she feels guilty she couldn't take care of her mother."