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Arson scheme turns murderous

It was supposed to be a plot to fraudulently collect insurance money but murder reared its ugly head as the scheme went haywire.

A woman accused of torching her own bakery in Gretna, Louisiana, probably had no knowledge of the felony-murder rule when she and perhaps an accomplice soaked the business with gasoline and then touched it off. However, fire and explosions are unpredictable, especially in the hands of amateurs, and the two women suffered severe burns.

The suspected accomplice lingered for a few days before dying of her injuries, and when a suspect like the bakery owner commits a felony such as arson and anyone gets killed, even another guilty party, the charge is murder. Reportedly, the suspected accomplice suffered burns to 70 percent of her body and died several days after the raging fire and explosions. The murder suspect survived.

Incredibly, both women fled the scene and managed to survive for a period before desperation and pain led them to seek medical at a hospital where they gave false names and acted as if they did not know one another. They further manufactured stories on how they were burned. When both were evacuated to the burn unit in Baton Rouge, the medical staff quickly suspected the two new patients were connected.

Meanwhile, back at the arson scene, investigators there were coming up with suspicions of their own. The smoldering scene reeked of gasoline, a common so-called "accelerant" in an arson case. Furthermore, the front doors of the shop had apparently been blown off by a potent explosion. The tip-off there was that most of the torched bakery was operated electrically and there was no source of natural gas that could have built up and caused such an explosive event.

Investigators opined that there was intent to collect on insurance proceeds and to relocate to another town. However, at the moment the only reasonable relocation is to jail to await trial on arson and murder charges. Police are waiting to nab her upon her release from the Baton Rouge General Medical Center burn unit.

When she finishes her battle for life after her burns, the suspect will enter another rigorous battle facing the legal system. An experienced criminal law attorney will do all he or she can to put out the fires in that arena.


Source: 
The Insurance Journal, "Louisiana Woman Faces Murder Charge in Arson-for-Insurance Scheme" No author given, Jul. 12, 2013

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