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Fire victims remembered

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By Ben Bomberger, Reporter

It's every parent's worst nightmare — losing a child.

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Ella Ruth Stoneman lived that nightmare last Monday morning when officers came to her work to tell her that her daughter, Amy Stoneman, 28, had been killed in a fire.

The accident also took the life of Ella Ruth's granddaughter, 4-year-old Deanna Lafferty, and the little girl's father, Larry Stephen Lafferty, 39.

"She loved to work and she loved her kids," Ella said of her daughter.

Amy left behind one daughter, Brittany Angel Stoneman, age 8, who lives with her father and attends Galax Elementary School.

The fatal fire happened the morning of Jan. 12 at the family's home on Charity Lane in Grayson County, just outside the Galax city limits. Fire investigators blame the blaze on a space heater.

Lafferty had two other sons — Steven, 16, and Andrew, 12 — who live in Florida.

Amy was born and raised in Galax, and graduated from Carroll County High School in June 1999.

She and Lafferty had been together five or six years, according to Ella, and she worked at the Tastee Freeze in Galax.

"She loved to go fishing... and swimming... and stuff like that," Ella told The Gazette last week. "She really loved her children, and she fed them and took care of them... that was her main thing... her kids."

Amy was always there for her mother, too.

"She always helped me out... she helped me out a lot," Ella said. "It's hard to believe though, I was at work when this happened."

Amy had three sisters, Ashley, Lisa and Cassandra.

"She was a great sister," Ashley Stoneman said. "She was always there when I needed her... when I couldn't find anyone else."

Colt Bullion was a friend of both Stoneman and Lafferty. "Amy and Larry were great people, they were always nice and kind to me."

Amy's father, William Stoneman, also spoke with The Gazette. He said he always called Amy his "little doll."

"I love her dearly," he said. "I love my grandkids too... I've got eight left, one of which was Amy's. She looks just like her momma... and acts just like her, as well."

On the day of the fire, Lafferty's family also spoke with The Gazette.

His aunt, Linda Maddox of Wytheville, said the couple had both recently been saved and were attending church.

"He was a wonderful man," Maddox said of her nephew.

She had a chance to visit with Lafferty the day before the fire and said she felt the Lord brought him to her home.

"He had a heart of gold," she continued. "That boy would give you the last bite of his bread if you needed it."

Preliminary reports show that the fire most likely started in the family's living room.

Neighbors told investigators that the couple had recently been having problems with their furnace and had set up a space heater in the living room to stay warm.

Last week, Grayson Sheriff Richard Vaughan said the medical examiner's office in Roanoke confirmed that all three died as a result of smoke inhalation.

Upon arrival at the scene just after 8 a.m. on Jan. 12, firefighters found the mobile home fully engulfed in flames.

According to Vaughan, neighbors had attempted to enter the house, but the doors were locked.