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Published: Wednesday, 7/11/2001

2 girls face charges for fire at foster home

BRYAN - Two 13-year-old girls who admitted setting fire to their foster parents' house were charged yesterday with six counts of attempted murder and arson.

“The juveniles admitted to setting the fire because they were not happy with being placed with the family by the Lucas County Department of Children Services,” Sheriff Alan Word said.

John and Jennifer Wodarski-Felt and their four children were sleeping in their rural Edon home when the blaze began. They were awakened by smoke alarms.

The six counts of attempted murder are for each of the people who were in the house, Williams County Prosecutor Craig Roth said. Ohio law only allows those 14 and over to be tried as adults, so the girls will be tried as juveniles, he said.

The maximum penalty they could receive if found guilty would be commitment to custody of the Ohio Department of Youth Services until they reach the age of 21.

“I was rather shocked to learn of this. It's very sad for something like this to happen,” Prosecutor Roth said. “I'm very thankful no one got hurt.”

Williams County sheriff's deputies said the foster children “started the fire by pouring gas on throw rugs in the back hallway of the residence and setting the rugs afire.”

The parents had managed to extinguish the flames by the time firefighters arrived at the home. No one was hurt.

“The attempted murder charges are a shocker,” said Rod Brandt of Lucas County Children Services. “But we owe that foster family our support, and we have said from the beginning that when someone commits a serious offense there will be consequences.

“That foster family was willing to open their home to welcome those two children who need a home, and the result was this. That family must feel irate, scared, and with a right to be angry.”

The Wodarski-Felts are a licensed foster family. One of the teenagers had been in their home three months. The other girl had been there five weeks.

The two girls took their clothes and tried to take a vehicle belonging to the Wodarski-Felt family. When they could not start the van, they began walking and were picked up by a firefighter on his way to the blaze.

The girls are being held at the Northwest Ohio Juvenile Detention Training and Rehabilitation Center. A trial date is pending in Williams County Juvenile Court.



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