Florida Girl, 11, Charged With Lighting Mom's Bed on Fire

Police say girl, boyfriend set blaze after argument over cigarettes.

December 30, 2009, 11:58 AM

Dec. 30, 2009— -- An 11-year-old Florida girl is in a psychiatric ward and her mother in the hospital after the tween allegedly set the woman's bed on fire in retaliation over an argument, police said today.

Samantha Broadhead and her 15-year-old boyfriend were charged with attempted murder and arson resulting in serious injury in the attack on Nancy Broadhead at her Clearwater, Fla., home.

Police and fire officials were called to the Huntington Lane home shortly after 1 a.m. Tuesday and found Broadhead in the front yard, seriously burned and suffering from smoke inhalation.

Clearwater police spokeswoman Elizabeth Watts said Broadhead had argued with Samantha the day before about cigarettes the girl had taken from her.

In the early morning hours of the next day, police said, Samantha and her boyfriend, Jack Ault, allegedly doused Broadhead's bed and her bedroom floor with gasoline and ignited the fuel.

The young couple then took off in Broadhead's 1997 Ford Focus, which was later found abandoned in a Clearwater church parking lot, police said.

Broadhead was awakened by the smoke alarm and managed to get out of the house, Watts said, adding that she did not know who called 911. Police said her injuries, including burns to her head and hands, were serious but not life-threatening.

Now being treated at the burn unit at Tampa General Hospital, Broadhead is in fair condition, according to a hospital spokeswoman, who declined to comment on the specifics of her burns.

Samantha was taken into custody after returning to her house, police said. Ault was located at a friend's house. He was also charged with grand theft for allegedly stealing Broadhead's car. Ault was denied bond at a court appearance today, according to the Tampa Tribune.

The girl remains hospitalized for psychiatric assessment under the state's Baker Act, which allows for involuntary examination if a patient is deemed to have a mental illness or be a danger to himself or others.

Tween's Boyfriend Has Lengthy Arrest Record

The Florida State Attorney's Office told ABCNews.com today that the case is still under investigation and that a decision about whether to charge Ault as an adult will likely be made next week.

In the state of Florida, minors younger than 14 can only be charged as adults in the case of a capital felony, such as murder. Attempted murder is not a capital felony.

Police spokeswoman Watts said this appears to be the first time Samantha has been arrested, at least in Clearwater. Ault, however, has a lengthy arrest record already.

He has been arrested numerous times since 2003, five times this year alone, all for "various misdemeanor charges," Watts said. The most serious charge this year, she said, was for domestic battery. The charges stemming from the attack on Broadhead, she said, are his first felony charges.

Broadhead was alone in the house at the time of the attack and no one else was injured, Watts said. She has two other sons, both minors, but they were not living with her at the time.

The attack came less than three months after five teenagers, two of them 13, allegedly set 15-year-old Michael Brewer on fire in Broward County, Fla.

Brewer was recently released from the hospital after suffering severe burns on 65 percent of his body. The alleged attack was in retaliation for an argument about a video game and a stolen bicycle.

The three 15 year olds were charged as adults.

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