A Missouri teacher of the year started the “suspicious” fire that k*illed her four young kids just hours after she posted on social media about living “each day like it’s your last,” cops say.

Bernadine “Birdie” Pruessner and her children – twins Ellie and Ivy Pruessner, 9; 5-year-old Jackson Spader; and 2-year-old MIllie Spader all perished in the blaze at their home in Ferguson on Monday morning.

On Wednesday, the St. Louis County Police Department confirmed that investigators ruled the fire a m*urder-su*icide.

Birdie Pruessner (center) and her four kids all di*ed in a house fire on Monday.

“It is believed that Bernadine intentionally set a mattress on fire as that was the point of origin for the fire,” the office announced.

“A note was also left stating Bernadine’s intentions to take her life and the lives of her children,” the statement read, without elaborating on the contents of the note.

Around 12:15 Monday morning – a few hours before the fire broke out around 4:30 – Pruessner, 39, posted about her children on Facebook.

“All my kids, peacefully sleeping in my bed…Knowing they are loved so fiercely that I’d do absolutely anything for them,” she wrote. “This is my favorite moment.”

On Sunday, the Lewis & Clark Community College professor shared a grinning selfie of the young brood.

“Us against the world. I’m so blessed to be their mama,” she captioned the photo.

“Making today one of those live each day like it’s your last kind of days!” Pruessner also wrote, while detailing her plans to take the children to a soccer game and a reptile show.

At the time of her death, Pruessner was in an “awful place” due to “ongoing litigation” with her ex-husband and the father of her twin daughters, a statement from her loved ones circulated on GoFundMe explained.

Pruessner and her ex, David Pruessner, divorced in 2017, and shared joint custody of Ivy and Ellie through last year, when the father filed to block Pruessner’s plans to relocate to about 10 miles away to the St. Louis suburb of Creve Coeur, according to court records.

Even though the new home would be closer to him, David Pruessner was concerned about his ex-wife’s proximity to her mother, whom she had allegedly described as “psychotic,” the documents showed.

“The first cast that I’ve ever had where the parent objected to the other parent moving closer to the other parent,” Bernadine Pruessner’s lawyer, Nathan Cohen, told The Post.

Pruessner was also facing a custody battle with her ex-boyfriend, Jared Spader, who was the father of Jackson and Millie.

“[David and Jared] coordinated their efforts,” Cohen claimed.

“She saw her children being used by their fathers as foils and she viewed the process and system for resolution of that those claims as cumbersome, tedious and never ending,” the mom of four’s family’s statement read.

“Each day that Birdie would score a step forward, her ex-husband and or her former boyfriend would undertake an action to denigrate or undermine her role as a mother,” they added.

Cohen told The Post he agreed with the family’s statement – and noted that Pruessner earned “less than $60,000 a year” and struggled to keep up with the costs of the legal jockeying.

Even so, Cohen said he never suspected that his client – who was awarded the Missouri Teacher of the Year Award from the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence in 2013 – was a danger to herself or her children.

“It’s really strange,” he said of the mu*rder-su*icide ruling.

“This entire week I’ve been asking my staff, did I miss it? She was one of the rare clients you get in family law that is not only upbeat, but was not putting on a show,” he added.

“Last week, the ex-husband pulled another move. The last thing I said [to her] was ‘Don’t worry, Birdie, we’ll kick this one down, too’…apparently I missed every sign,” Cohen lamented.

As of Thursday, the GoFundMe started by Pruessner’s relatives had raised over $12,000 of its $15,000 goal.

Jared Spader also released a statement on behalf of himself and David Pruessner, according to KSDK.

“As dads, right now we have to focus on honoring the four beautiful lives, and we plan to do that together,” the devastated dads said, while also thanking the community for its support.

A GoFundMe in honor of Jackson and Millie Spader raised over $36,000 – three times its $12,000 goal.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *