LAUDERHILL (CBSMiami) — The father of an 8-year old boy who died in a house fire faced a judge Wednesday after being charged with child neglect.

Wisler Isme, 29,  turned himself in at the Broward County Jail on Tuesday night.

At Wednesday’s hearing Isme’s attorney Scott Hecker questioned whether Isme was in charge of the children or not.  He believes the father was with the boys earlier in the day.

“They talk about my client being with the children. That was earlier in the day…three in the afternoon when they were fishing.  The car incident happened later in the day and they both returned. My client picked up the mother of the children at 3 o’clock in the morning and they both returned together,” said Hecker.

He did, however, say it was the mother who left candles burning in the boy’s closet which eventually lead to the deadly fire.

“The candles were lit by the mother, they were placed inside a closet with a sheet over it.  She placed it high in the closet so the boys could not get to the candle,” said Hecker.

The judge set his bond at $50,000.

Just before he turned himself in, Isme spoke briefly to CBS4.

“Everything happen for a reason,” Isme said. “Just got to pray about situations.”

Lauderhill Police told CBS 4 News that Isme was home alone with his sons — Jayden, 8, and Justin, 9, while their mother Melanie Harvey was at work on Monday, June 23. Police said Harvey had car trouble and called Isme. Investigators say Isme left the children alone — possibly for hours — and when he and Harvey returned to the home it was fully engulfed in flames.

Isme had little to say about the accusation that he left his boys alone.

“I didn’t hear that,” he said.

But a 9-1-1 call made in the moments after the fire tells a different story. Justin Isme was speaking with a woman who reported the early morning fire. She asked the boy questions about what happened.

CALLER: “Where’s your mom?”
BOY: “She was at work. My dad was here.”
CALLER: “Where’s your dad?”
BOY: (Unintelligible)
CALLER: “Your dad left?”
BOY: “My dad left us.”

DCF placed Justin with one of his teachers.  Havery’s family is furious that the boy is not with his mom.

“All she did was go to work trying to feed her kids. She was working two jobs the day her son died,” said the boy’s grandfather. He went on to say Isme is to blame, “She left her baby in his hands,” he said, “and then her baby died.”

According to the boys’ grandfather, the 8-year-old woke up first and alerted his older brother but he said that Jayden was reluctant to jump out the window after his older brother, Justin. Following the fire, a judge placed Justin in the care of a teacher who is a family friend. Promithious Denmark said she taught his brother at Royal Palm Elementary.

The judge ordered grief counseling for Justin Isme who said that he and his brother were inseparable.

In the days after the fire a memorial grew to Jayden — known as Yoyo. Friends and neighbors described him as a happy child who loved to ride his bike and play football.

Harvey is allowed to have supervised visits with the surviving son. The judge told their mother she may have to take parenting classes and cooperate with the court if she wants to regain permanent custody of her surviving child at a later time.

As for Isme, his Facebook page is a memorial to his son who died. There are pleas for donations to help pay for funeral expenses as well as prayers and wishes from dozens of people. In his brief interview with CBS 4 News, Isme alluded to the challenges of the past several days.

“A lot of things tough in life,” he said. “A lot of things tough but it is what it is.”

A wake and funeral is set for Jayden.

The wake will take place on July 4th from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Covenant Mortuary at 1444 South Federal Highway in Deerfield Beach. 

The funeral is scheduled for July 5th at 12:00 p.m. at the Redeeming Word at 2800 W Prospect Road. The burial will be after at Sunset Memorial Gardens in Fort Lauderdale. 

Click here to watch Ted Scouten’s report.


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Ted Scouten