Mother accused of dragging kids back into fire

CLEVELAND - A woman dragged her two daughters back inside their burning home after the girls ran to a neighbor for help, authorities allege.

A Cuyahoga County grand jury has indicted Laquana O'Neal, 33, of Cleveland, on 24 counts. She faces multiple charges of aggravated arson, felonious assault, rape and gross sexual imposition, said Jamie Dalton, spokeswoman for the county prosecutor's office.

Dalton said Thursday that the woman had not been arrested.

Prosecutor Bill Mason said police and fire marshals investigated the Feb. 5, 2005, fire for more than a year. During the investigation, the girls, ages 8 and 12, lived in foster care, he said.

The girls told investigators that their mother was upset because the older girl had a boyfriend. Mason said the mother interrogated the older girl while applying lighted incense to parts of her body.

The mother set the house on fire when she didn't get answers and forced the girls back inside after they ran out, investigators said.

A neighbor saw smoke and pulled O'Neal and the girls out of the home, Mason said.

All three were treated for smoke inhalation.

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