Three red, heart-shaped balloons hung on three 10-foot-tall trees Thursday in a small park near the Village Seven neighborhood in central Colorado Springs.
The balloons, the trees and the Nicholls Children’s Park are reminders of an arson fire that happened 10 years ago about 50 yards from where Marcia Fields made a subtle statement.
“I just want people to remember this,” said Fields, who hung the balloons Thursday morning.
The gesture was for Jay Nicholls, 11, and his sisters Sophia, 5, and Sierra, 3. The siblings died in the fire at 4107 Undimmed Circle that was set by Timothy and Deborah Nicholls — the children’s parents.
Timothy and Deborah Nicholls are serving life sentences for murder.
Fields lived in the Springs at the time of the March 7, 2003, fire. She moved into the Village Seven neighborhood in 2009 and has paid tribute to the children ever since.
Fields said she didn’t know exactly where the park was when she moved to the neighborhood south of North Carefree Circle, but she “happened upon it one day.” The park was refurbished by neighbors and dedicated to the children in October 2007.
Fields, a mother of three and grandmother of three, stops by the park as she takes walks. Fields said she sits near the trees and prays for the children’s grandmother Sandra Wilson, for the children, and for the parents sitting in prison.
“They probably need prayers more than a lot of people,” Fields said of Timothy and Deborah Nicholls.
Timothy Nicholls was convicted in 2007 and his wife was found guilty of first-degree murder in November 2008.
Testimony during their trials showed that the couple used accelerants to burn the family home in a scheme to collect insurance money. The Nicholls were in financial trouble, which prosecutors said stemmed from their methamphetamine addiction.
On March 7 in 2011 and 2012, Fields left flowers and prayer cards at the park. She said Wilson’s loss weighed on her heart Thursday.
“I just think about the grandmother,” Fields said. “Every day has got to be hard for her, especially when March 7 comes around.”