By Jim Williams

(CBS) — Everyone who knew Millicent Brown-Johnson  and her 8-year-old son Jovan Perkins said the same thing Monday.

“They loved each other. They were very loving people, very loving,” teacher Emma Brooks tells CBS 2’s Jim Williams.

At the preschool and kindergarten Jovan attended years ago, they paid tribute to the mother and son.

“A little man,” they called him. “So smart. So well-mannered.” And he had, Brooks said, a devoted, involved mom.

“Anything that we needed, with regards to helping us prepare him for the things that we did here in class, she was always willing,” she says.

Outside the building where Millicent and Jovan lived — where suspected arson killed them over the weekend — some close friends were too distraught to talk.

But Chris Amos said she was with Jovan at this start of his life.

“They stayed next door to us on 106th and Vernon. I brought him home from the hospital,” Amos says.

Roseland is a troubled community. Ron King, who did not know the family, signed a memorial poster because he said his father was murdered in a robbery around the corner several years ago.

“I put my name on the RIP just to let the families know that there are people in the city that care,” he says.

Police are saying little about where their investigation is. They suspect arson because of where the fire started — a stairwell — and how fast it moved.

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