Children Accused Of Planning To Stab Grandmother, Siblings

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A plot by an 11-year-old boy and his 10-year-old sister to stab their strict grandmother and two siblings to death and burn the house down failed when the fire spread too quickly, authorities said.

Sheriff's detectives said the boy poured the kerosene as his younger sister laid out 10 knives. They allegedly set the fire to make the deaths appear accidental and thought it would burn slowly enough for them to stab their sleeping grandmother, 8-year-old brother and 12-year-old sister.

However, smoke from the fire early Monday woke up one of their siblings, who roused the others in the rural Franklin County house.

All escaped without injury.

The grandmother, Judith Follette, said she learned the truth when the 10-year-old girl told her of the plan while the family ate breakfast at a restaurant later Monday.

"She said he wanted to kill us. His plan was to kill us and take my car over and live with my ex-husband," Follette, 52, told The Columbus Dispatch for a story Tuesday. "Apparently, they had planned this for some time. That gave me a cold chill."

Follette said the children thought she was too strict.

She said the 11-year-old boy especially has been angry with her because she has been using tough-love tactics to get his respect, including timeouts, groundings and standing in the middle of the room on one leg.

Sheriff's detective Al Judy said the children have been on strong anti-depressant medication. He does not think they understand the consequences of their actions.

"Their idea was the house was too small and they wanted to go live with grandpa," he said Tuesday.

He said the fire was started in the 10-year-old girls' bedroom with kerosene and candles.

Lawyers for the pair entered innocent pleas Tuesday in Franklin County Juvenile Court to delinquency counts of aggravated arson.

The children were being held in juvenile detention and did not appear in court. If convicted, they could be in the state's custody until age 21.

The children can't be sentenced to prison because they are too young under Ohio law.

"We filed the charges because we hope they receive some obviously needed counseling," Judy said. "Their mom and dad are out of state and grandma was doing the best she could."

Follette was awarded custody of the children by a Louisiana court in 1995 after she sued over dirty living conditions and allegations that the two girls had been sexually molested by male relatives. The two boys said they had been physically abused.

Follette said the two children in custody have been on medication for depression and all four have undergone counseling.

"I have not turned my back on these children. I'm hoping that this will open up more doors to counselors and psychologists," Follette said Monday. "I imagine we're going to be split up for awhile.

"We've been through a lot of love and hate and understanding in the past six years."

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)