Initially an Army wife claimed it was just a small house fire that burned her legs, but now she’s accusing her husband of using lighter fluid to set her on fire.
“I started screaming, and looked for a way to get the fire out,” she testified.
Heather Rader testified to jurors on Thursday in a Thurston, Wash., courtroom that she initially lied because she was afraid of her husband, Army Sgt. Duane Rader. A veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq, Rader, 35, faces attempted second-degree murder and arson charges.
According to ABC affiliate KOMO, Heather placed a 911 call on Feb. 13, 2011, to report that she spilled lighter fluid on herself.
Dispatcher: “911, what are you reporting?”
Heather Rader: “There was a small fire at my house. The fire is out. I burned my legs and I think I need an ambulance.”
Heather goes on to tell the dispatcher she needs help after she filled a lighter and it caught fire. Her husband is heard yelling in the background.
Dispatcher: “You said that you were filling your Zippo? Tell me why your leg is burned and why is your husband screaming like that?”
Heather Rader: “Duane, please…”
Duane Rader: “Get out of here.”
Heather Rader: “I don’t know. I just…”
Duane Rader: “B—- [expletive].”
Heather Rader: ” I need an ambulance.”
When questioned by the dispatcher about her husband’s behavior, Heather immediately dismisses any foul play.
Dispatcher: “That’s not normal for a husband to act like that when you’re hurting… Were you guys having an argument before this happened?”
Heather Radar: “Yes, but he didn’t do this to me on purpose. It wasn’t .. nothing like that.”
Duane Rader: “Leave and don’t ever come back.”
At the trial Heather testified that her husband had poured himself a drink that night when she preferred he didn’t. He responded he’d “drink everything in the house if he wanted to.” In response, Heather headed upstairs to bed and was later awakened when he drunkenly slammed the door open.
“He told me that I was evil and that he had a bullet he was going to put in my head,” she testified.
As she tried to leave the house from the kitchen, she says he pushed her head into the floor and counter. That’s when she grabbed her purse and car keys.
“Told me again that I was evil and had to die … and that’s when he poured lighter fluid on my legs,” Heather Rader said. “He lit a match, and sort of tossed it onto my legs. I was just laying there. I couldn’t move in fear — I was terrified,” she continued.
“My legs lit on fire. I started screaming, and looked for a way to get the fire out. And there was a blanket on the couch — also set the couch on fire.”
Heather claims the fear that was instilled after the incident kept her quiet to protect both herself and her daughter.
“Because I was scared. That what he had told me was true. That he would hurt me, hurt my daughter, and I love my daughter too much to let that happen.”
The trial will continue on Monday and the defense will have the opportunity to present its case. According to ABC affiliate KOMO, Duane Rader’s defense attorney plans to show jurors that if Heather Rader lied once, she could be lying again.