press conference 12-year-old girl

Press conference: Miami County Prosecutor Eric Huneryager talks to the media about the 12-year-old girl who allegedly set the bed her mother slept in on fire.

PERU — A 12-year-old Miami County girl allegedly set fire to her mother’s bed Monday morning because she had been given too many chores.

“Apparently the mom had given her a lot of duties,” Miami County Sheriff Ken Roland said. “It was too much for a 12-year-old, and she snapped.”

The girl reportedly set fire to her mother’s bed on Monday morning. She then took her mother’s car and her two siblings, a 6-year-old sister and 8-year-old brother and drove south on U.S. 31.

She is being detained at the Robert J. Kinsey Youth Center in Kokomo. The girl will be charged as a juvenile.

The 29-year-old mother awoke about 5 a.m. Monday after feeling heat on her feet, according to Indiana State Police Sgt. Tony Slocum.

“No accelerant was used,” he said. “The girl set the mattress on fire and left the home. The mother suffered minor injuries and refused medical treatment at the scene.”

Slocum said the mother put the fire out and was concerned about her children when she discovered them and her car missing and called 911.

Sgt. Gary Glassburn of the sheriff’s department contacted the suspect by calling her mother’s cellular telephone. Police said she fabricated a story, saying that the three children were abducted and she was ordered to drive south in her mother’s car while the alleged abductor followed.

Glassburn persuaded the girl to stop the car at the intersection of Howard County Roads 300 East and 500 North, where deputies found the children unharmed at 5:50 a.m.

Slocum said the girl was a “very composed young lady” when asked about the story of the alleged abduction.

“She spent a lot of time as their caretaker at home,” Slocum said of the two younger siblings. “They only knew what they were told by the older sister.”

The girl was driving her mother’s 2000 Toyota and had no apparent destination, police said.

The car and the two younger children have been returned to the care of their mother.

Miami County Prosecutor Eric Huneryager said the girl will be charged with an act, not a crime. He said she will be charged with juvenile delinquency, on charges of attempted murder and arson if she was an adult.

There is no criminal history for the family, Huneryager said.

The girl will appear in Miami County Circuit Court on Wednesday for a detention hearing and then have an initial court appearance next week, he said.

“The intent of the juvenile system is rehabilitation, treatment and counseling,” Huneryager said. “They will provide services to determine why she acted out the way she did and to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

The girl could be sentenced to a structured therapeutic facility, he said.

“It could be an ongoing placement because of the type of crime she is alleged to have committed,” Huneryager said. “I have no intention of filing a waiver to adult court. There are very few services available in the adult criminal justice system for a 12-year-old.”

There was no incident during the previous days that would indicate this would take place, he said.

“She was emotionally upset,” Huneryager said of the girl after her arrest. “There was normal interaction between the parent and child in the days prior to this incident.

“This is a unique situation,” he said. “After 12 years as prosecutor, I’m not surprised by anything. We’re concerned with the nature of the juvenile’s problems and hope the system can rehabilitate her.”

The mother didn’t ask that charges against her daughter not be filed, Huneryager said. There was no interaction between the two following the girl’s arrest.

Sheriff Roland said the investigation is continuing and law enforcement officials are trying to piece together what happened.

Ken de la Bastide can be reached at (765) 454 -8580 or via e-mail at

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