Colorado Girl Tried to Kill Family by Starting Fires: Police

PHOTO: A 13-year-old girl is in police custody and facing attempted murder charges for allegedly setting several fires in her familys homes.PlayABC News
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A 13-year-old Colorado girl is in police custody and facing attempted murder charges for allegedly setting several fires in her family's homes.

The family's name is being withheld by the Jefferson County Sheriff's office because the girl is a minor.

The eighth grader was arrested outside of her middle school in Jefferson County, Colo., on Tuesday. On Monday, she is expected to be formally charged with felony arson, six counts of first degree attempted murder, criminal mischief and intentionally setting a wild land fire, ABC Affiliate KMGH reported.

Her father told that he and his wife feel the attempted murder charges are too harsh.

"She's never been in trouble in her life…never been expelled from school or nothing," said the father, who ABC News is identifying only by his first name Brad to protect the girl's identity. "We got five kids, our normal family problems and stuff like that and she didn't have the counseling or someone to talk to about…some of the issues that she's picked up."

Brad believes that his marital problems with his wife last spring might have sparked his daughter's idea to start the fires.

"She was angry… seeing her parents argue and go through their own struggles. I feel like it was more to unite the family than kill the family," said Brad. "It was more of an attention thing."

A former neighbor of the family described hearing screaming and yelling from the family home and called them a "strange family."

Over the past five months, police have been investigating the cause of at least four fires started on or near properties where the family of seven has lived, KMGH reported. Police believe the girl started a grass fire that led to the evacuation of 80 homes in Conifer, Colo., in April. During that same month, two other fires were started at the family's home. One started on a back deck and was extinguished. The second fire started in the girl's bedroom and destroyed the family's home.

"We told the investigators the day of the fire... that we have our suspicions about [our daughter] but we can't get her to admit it," the father said.

Instead investigators focused first on Brad's 17-year-old son, he said.

"They interrogated him for two hours. He was crying uncontrollably, nose running…they put all their focus on my older son," Brad said.

The family moved to a new home and when a fire was started at that home this month, investigators turned their attention to the eighth grader. She admitted last week to her family and police that she had started the fires, Brad said. He thought the police would allow him to bring his daughter into custody and was shocked when she was arrested at school this week.

Today, the girl underwent a series of tests to assess how much of a risk she poses to the community and whether she should be eligible for bail, Brad said.

"I'm praying [that] on Monday they let her out," he said.

The father said that the family feels completely comfortable with the girl living at home.

"I'd give her my life in her hands. That's how much I still trust her and I know she was just doing that to act out and get attention and I think she definitely learned her lesson," he said.

The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office did not return calls and emails asking for comment.