Man learns of his biological mother, and tragedy of how she died

Tony Proulx

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) –It’s an amazing story, with amazing tragedy.

Tony Proulx just found his biological mother, and that he has 4 siblings.

Adopted as a new born, Tony never knew his mother–but will never meet her.

Proulx grew up about 10 miles from Yale Avenue, the site of a triple fatal arson fire 5 years ago to the day where his mother died.

Living with adoptive parents, he knew at a young age he would like to know who his birth mother was.

“I think you think about that right away,” Proulx said.

When adoption records were unsealed, Tony thought he was closer than ever to finding out.

He got some help from a group called Search Squad online.

They sent him a message, but not what he thought it would be.

“My biological mother passed away 5 years ago in a terrible fire,” he said.

Deanna Perry, 61, and 7-month-old Brianna Smith, who Perry was caring for, were also found dead.

Perry was Proulx’s mother.

“I went straight to her grave and said my words there,” he said. “Told her I was sorry for being late, and thank you for creating me, bringing me into this world.”

Now on this grim anniversary, Proulx is joining his new-found family for a vigil.

There are hopes that keeping this story alive, will help find answers for those who died.

“I want this day to be about my mother, my nephew, and Brianna Smith, that’s what today is about,” he said. “I’m hoping someone sees this knows something and come forward. People that did this, living with that must be eating them alive. I have to think it’s getting to them, get it off their chest and save their soul.” Proulx said.

Tony spends time talking with his siblings, learning about his mom, and hears plenty that makes him feel good.

“(I’ve heard) how big of a heart she had, how kind she was, how she helped others. That’s how I am, satisfied helping people,” Proulx said.

Now, he hopes someone will help him.

If you have any information on the Yale Avenue fire, call Columbus Police or Crimestoppers at (614) 461-8477. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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