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Funeral Arrangements Announced For Family Killed In Stamford Fire

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Lomer Johnson as Santa Claus, with his wife Paula, standing, and three grandchildren. All died in a blaze on Christmas Day, 2011. (credit: gigmasters.com)

Lomer Johnson as Santa Claus, with his wife Paula, standing, and three grandchildren. All died in a blaze on Christmas Day, 2011. (credit: gigmasters.com)

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STAMFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — Madonna Badger will say her final farewell to her three children and parents at a funeral service set for next Thursday.

They were all killed in a tragic Christmas Day fire in Badger’s Stamford home, which was being renovated.

A private wake will be held Wednesday afternoon at Frank E. Campbell funeral home on Madison Avenue in Manhattan.

On Thursday, 10-year-old Lily, 7-year-old twins Grace and Sarah and their grandparents Lomer and Pauline Johnson will be eulogized at a funeral service at St. Thomas Episcopal Church at 10:30 a.m. The service will be open to the public.

Following the service, there will be a private committal at Woodlawn Cemetery. Grace, Sarah and Lily will be buried there.

Badger’s parents will be cremated and the cremains sent to Louisville, Kentucky.

In lieu of flowers, the family is expected to ask for donations to a memorial fund, which will likely benefit a scholarship in the girls’ names.

Meanwhile, Stamford police are stepping up their involvement in the investigation into the deadly blaze. Up until now they had been playing an advisory role to fire investigators.

“Absolutely detectives should be involved, right from the beginning,” said Prof. Robert McCrie of John Jay College.

CBS 2 has learned they will now play a more active role with experienced detectives working to get to the bottom of the sequence of events that ended with the deaths of three children and their grandparents.

Investigators have determined that improperly placed fire embers sparked the blaze but many questions in the case still remain unanswered.

The house on Shippan Avenue was being extensively renovated and Badger, who survived the blaze, had been dating the contractor, Michael Borcina, who is accused of starting the fire after moving a bag of fireplace ashes into the rear mudroom.

Borcina told the fire marshal he left the ashes in the mudroom.

“Was it laziness?  Carelessness?  An accident?  Difficult as those issues are, they need to be explored.  And those are issues best explored by investigators, detectives, not the fire marshal,” McCrie said.

A law enforcement source tells CBS 2 detectives want to ask Borcina what he did that night and why.

They will also focus on the work he was doing at the house and ask why the smoke detector system was wired but not activated.

Detectives will also look to question Madonna Badger but that difficult task is on hold until after the funeral services next week.

CBS 2 News has learned Badger was released yesterday from a psychiatric care facility in Westchester County.

Her uncle, Al McCarthy, said you can only imagine her grief.

“I talked to her a couple times.  She’s like any mother, and she was a real good mother to the children,” McCarthy said. “I can’t even get my head around what she’s going through.  I mean she lost her whole family, there’s nobody left.”

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