A 14-year-old resident of Palm Coast’s B Section and a student at Buddy Taylor Middle School was arrested Friday morning and charged with five felony counts over allegedly, maliciously starting fires at six locations that day, all of them in the B Section. The girl lives at a group home on Burgundy Place.
The fires were set in vacant lots on Birchwood Drive, on Big Dipper Lane, at 1 Burgundy Place and two on Big Horn Drive, and a fence was damaged at 2 Burrell Place, according to the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office.
Residents on Birchwood Drive told deputies who were investigating the fires that they saw “a white juvenile female with long blonde hair wearing a black shirt and blue jeans walking around with mud on her,” and produced a video of the girl. A deputy recognized her because of recent encounters with her. Other witnesses provided similar descriptions of the girl, some of them providing video as well.
One such clip shows the girl on Big Dipper Lane, then north on Birchwood Drive, and catches the girl walking into the wooded lot of 1 Big Horn Drive then back out. Even as deputies were searching for the girl, they got other reports of fires in the B-Section. A patrol located her–holding a lighter in her hand. The girl declined to speak with deputies.
The fire at 1 Burgundy Place had damaged a section of fencing on Burrell Place, but each fire grew in size and approached homes in the heavily residential neighborhood, the sheriff’s report notes.
The girl was placed under arrest and charged with five counts of Reckless and intentional Burning of Lands and one count of Felony Criminal Mischief over $1,000. She was processed at the county jail, turned over to the Department of Juvenile Justice, and released to her legal guardian pending a future court date.
“This young lady needs a lot of help and since DJJ released her back into the same environment that allowed this behavior, I hope she does not do it again and instead gets the help she needs,” Sheriff Rick Staly said. “Thank you to our hard-working deputies and the witnesses who saw what was happening and called us immediately and thank you to the Palm Coast Fire Department for working hard to put out the fires.”
Anyone else seeing a pattern here. It’s so unfortunate that these kids feel compelled to do and engage in destructive activities. All Generations have their episodes. We hung out in the woods, fished camped etc. We didn’t burn it down Hope she gets the guidance she needs. Glad no one got hurt.
This 14 yr girl setting fires then the other report of another 14 yr old girl tasing someone, what is going on with the teenagers in Palm Coast?
These children truly need help and it doesn’t appear they are getting it. Both now will have felony charges on their names which will be with them for the rest of their lives.
Are the teenagers in this town have nothing better to do than to commit felons. They need to have the FCSO go to these schools and have some serious talks with these kids. Since it doesn’t appear their parents are capable of teaching them right from wrong.
Let me just say I lived at this group home. And how everyone is making it out to be is not true at all. The woman that own this group home have taught me about real life. These woman are wonderful! Anyone that says other wise doesn’t know anything they are talking about. If u wanna be technical let’s talk about the caseworkers and how poor there system is with these kids. They don’t care about us lol the crazy part is the girl in this whole paragraph has problems obviously there is only so much staff can do. And if u have any problem or any question concerning anything I have said feel free to speak. Because I can put all the bad out about the foster care system these woman helped me more then independent living isn’t that something.
Gabriella DeVito says
Hello I’m a resident of the group home that this 14 year old girl lived at. I’m very upset with you guys for slandering my care takers of this group home names, I am 17 years old and have been in this home since I was 14 and I came here a totally mess. I had horrible grades, bad depression and anxiety, and used to cut my self from the sexual abuse that I went through in my old home. They helped me through all of that and I no longer cut myself,I have straight A’s in school, and I over all care about my well being now and want to become successful in life because of them. The people that failed this 14 year girl was the system, the system is clearly broken, which is why DJJ did not except her After having 6 felonies from the 6 fires that she started.The women’s who run this group home go above and beyond for us. So Shame on you sheriff Staley for putting a fake statement concerning the group home as if they created the horrible incident that happened.
Obviously she was NOT being supervised! I think some people need structure, acceptance, Love. But again, this is responsibilities of the Adults in charge, where is the SUPERVISION? Glad they are doing good by you!
I am a resident at the group home and I’m 15 years old. The audacity Sheriff Rick Staly had in slandering my caretakers was horrible. I came from a broken home where my family sexually abused me, I contemplated and attempted suicide on multiple occasions, and I was thrown out constantly with no food, clothes, or a place to go to. I had to deal with that abuse for 5 years until I got put in the foster care system. This is the only home I’ve actually been taken care of. The women who run this home care deep down in their hearts for us, and they show it. This whole system is broke. My caretakers didn’t fail this child, the environment she grew up in failed her. You never know what type of child you’re letting into your home. There is no way we could’ve expected this. And for Sheriff Staly to say such a horrible, slandering statement (“‘…released her back into the same environment that allowed this behavior'”) is a disgrace. The women who are caring for me are compassionate, loving, dedicated, and supportive of me and the rest of these resident. They are not the big organizations like DJJ, they are the grass-workers that do a lot more to assist our communities.
Concerned Citizen says
I already see people in the Facebook comments making excuses about mental health issues.
We need to stop giving mental health passes everytime one of our darling youth get themselves into trouble. At a certain age you know right from wrong..
Ever stop to think that it’s not mental health related at all? There are mean people in this world that just enjoy harming others/animals. And damaging property that isn’t theirs. And guess what they come in all ages.
Hopefully proper justice is metted out. We don’t need another 88 or 98 fire season. Those were bad enough.
I am a resident at the group home and I’m 15 years old. The audacity Sheriff Rick Staly had in slandering my caretakers was horrible. I come from a broken hoe where my family sexually abused me, I contemplated suicide and attempted on multiple occasions, and I was throw out constantly with no food, clothes, or a place to go. I had to deal with that for 5 years until I got put in the foster care system. This is the only home I’ve actually been taken care of and loved. The women who run this home care deep down and they show it. This whole system is broken. My caretakers didn’t fail this child, the environment she grew up in failed her. You never know what type of child you are letting into your home. There is no way we could’ve expected this. And fro Sheriff Staly to say “…released her back into the environment that allowed this behavior” is a disgrace to the FCSO. The women who are caring for me are compassionate, loving, dedicated, and supportive of me and the rest of these residents. They are not the big organizations like DJJ that have choices, they are the grass-workers that do their best to assist our communities
The article only mentions that the girl lives in a group home. It does not make a value judgment. The sheriff has consistently complained of DJJ’s method of immediately returning juveniles to their environment after an alleged offense—whether it’s their parents or other circumstances.
Gabriella devito says
In layman’s terms what was said by the sheriff people would think that the environment he was talking about was the group home and I just think you should have definitely clarified it better so people don’t think badly of these woman who dedicated their lives to helping kids in foster care.
Did one of the staff write this for you all to post? Looks like the same exact letter! SMH
Zaporia Williams says
I am 27 years old and once lived in the group home supervised and cared for by these two women that Sheriff Staley accused of creating an environment that would produce 14-year-old arsenic. I was taken from my mother at the age of 14 because she was unfit to care for me, and I landed in the foster system, which placed me in the care of these magnificent women who taught me how to love and value myself and my community. I still visit the group home to this day, and the two women who became my saving grace are still doing an unbelievable job with children who are broken and lost because of their parents. And I thank God every day that I was one of the many that they saved. Mistakes happen in nuclear families and group homes, but what Flaglerlive, along with Sheriff Staley, says in this article by mentioning the word group home is that destructive behaviors exist more in that setting than in typical households. I beg to differ. The 14-year-old young girl who started the fires has issues and what she did was horrible. But to now take the dignity and pride from the present residents by writing an article seen by the community implying that they live in an unsupervised and uncaring environment is unfair and hurtful to all concerned.
“…that allowed this behavior,” pretty harsh, accusatory and narrow-minded language which reinforces the point. While his perspective is from a career spent dealing with those who fall through the cracks for whatever reasons, please consider, Sheriff, that such a comment is demoralizing to the immense efforts of those dedicating their lives to actually help. You have earned a reputation of rolling up your sleeves; maybe get involved at some level to educate, assist them in their efforts and regain the perspective that quite possibly got you into law enforcement in the first place. Prayers, blessings and best wishes to all the residents and caring staff of this home.
Dave W says
A counselor once told me (after a kid set a fire at my house) that fire starting is very strongly linked with sexual abuse. This girl needs help, not incarceration, I bet. These many fires are not a ‘bad kid’ but a troubled kid.
Concerned Citizen says
She can get help after a proper sentencing is served.
We need to stop giving out free passes on assumed mental health status. You still know right from wrong. What if this hadn’t been arson on empty properties. What if she had tried to torch an occupied dwelling. Or if as dry as it was these fires spread damaging homes and threatning lives? Should innocent people be threatned because we assume this kid might have a troubled past?
As far as the counselor goes who gave you that info. I’ve known counselors who didn’t need to be counseling. There’s plenty of bad kids out there. After being a cop then retiring from Fire Rescue I’ve seen my share. And the results of their actions first hand.
Five comments from current or past residents of the group home where this young lady lives all demeaning the Sheriff for supposedly criticizing said home. Those who know my writings will know that I am not a fan of our Sheriff. Be that as it may, I will not sit by as he is wrongly accused. On numerous occasions he has been critical of the DJJ’s habit of ‘catch and release’. In this instance, he was simply keeping with his previous comments about the agency. DJJ would have released Lizzy Borden if they were given the opportunity. With that said, I cannot help but to think that this young lady is not getting the help she needs in this group home. Her issues may be deeper than those that these homes are intended handle. I do not know the exact situation here but it is obvious that this gal needs help.
As for the mentioned comments, I find it interesting that two are from the same person with only minor differences and one is from a self-claimed ‘straight A’ student. In comparing the first two with the third, it is obvious that all three came from the same cookie jar.
Self-claimed, and very true. Do your research before assuming that this young lady is lying about being a A student, and you assuming all five comments came from the same person when in fact it didn’t! FYI: Two of the girls goes to Matanza’s HS. Once again your writing is flawed and accusatory. I find it interesting that you would take the time out to try and slander this child, before getting all the facts. The 14 yr old girl got what she needed from the group home. She had services providing to her at home and school. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s Nature not Nurture. As a writer and someone who has the ear of the community, you should learn the difference…educate yourself!!!!
C. Lin says
The DJJ System broken! Why isn’t flagler live writing about that. DJJ point system is very flawed and one size fits all don’t work when dealing with kids. Anyone, juvenile or not should not have been released from jail the same day after committing 6 felonies. The child care system, DJJ and the police dept. is overwhelmed, and doing their best with the resources given to them. Don’t slander one system without including all.
My name is Jessica, and I’m 26 years old and a prior resident of the group home that housed the 14-year-old who started the community’s horrific fires. This individual should be locked up in DJJ and have a thorough mental evaluation. I lived at this particular group home from the age of 14 until I turned 18 years old. My parents were addicted to control substances, and my father eventually committed suicide which led my sister and me to foster care. My blessing through the entire ordeal was being placed with the supportive women that Sheriff Staly quoted as being responsible for this young girl’s behavior that created the horrible ordeal on Friday night. I am now a parent of two beautiful daughters that I am raising to be strong, caring, and loving adults. If they stray away from my parental teaching at any time in their lives, I genuinely hope the world wouldn’t be there to accuse me of being an awful parent who would be the cause of their terrible choices.
A group home can be just as loving as others described; however if they don’t step up to recognize her mental health needs & place her in a day in-patient program that may be what the Sherriff is speaking of. Additionally, it seems there is a tight bond with the girls that live the with her and that she was the youngest, mild mannered and perhaps like other homes she was in…. was harassed and bullied perhaps even threaten. those are not things that the group parents may have been made aware of. In setting this few fires, it was an additional way of saying there’s a problem. TBH… i see that as VERY likely the problem after reviewing the profiles of residents. That’s not a problem w the group home….how could they know what all you all are doing, or why targeting her(obvious otherwise)
Why is it so hard for people to understand that the problem of some of these kids starts from birth. It’s not mental health, bullying, or lack of help. It’s bad parenting. No therapist, caregivers, teachers or community can change some children behavior due to trauma in three or four years. Where do u put children with behavior issues due to trauma when DJJ funding have been cut in half? Most of these kids are crying out for their parents love on top of dealing with their early childhood trauma. Nothing or no one can replace that love with some of these kids…and that’s where the majority of the problems lays!!! Setting fires, shooting at cops etc is nothing but an extreme case of attention seeking and rebellion behavior due to that missing love one. U have a kid who fought the police, set several major fires and is allowed to walk away with no consequences due to the lack of DJJ funding. Society expects that kid to not take their behavior to the next level…in their mind they’re untouchable!!!
I Tried My Best Always says
Please do not lay all blame on bad parenting. As someone who went the extra mile to do everything right, my child still had a learning disability and an undiagnosed bi-polar disorder that made it nearly impossible to fit her “square peg” into a “round hole.” Unless you have walked in those shoes, please be a little compassionate about the parents who did everything possible (including mental health counseling and medications) to TRY to make the child fit into a normal society. It is heartbreaking to deal with, especially when they are mid-age legal adults and still having problems.
No one is laying any blame on parents that goes over and beyond. Children that’s in the system are there for a reason. The most common reason is bad parenting and neglect. Clearly you don’t fit into that category so Apparently I wasn’t talking about parents like yourself. The parents I’m talking about are the ones that use drugs in front of their kids, who allows men to abuse their kids, stay high 24/7 9 Leaving the kids to fend for themselves, parents who mentally, physically and verbally abuse their kids. If u don’t fit any of these description, then I’m not referring to you or any parent like you.
It sounds to me like there are some very caring people doing selfless work with mostly good results here. You can’t hold them accountable for the occasional bad actions of abused children. I won’t defend the actions of the girl and understand why neighbors would have complaints and reservations when something like this happens. As a father to two daughters, thank you to the women who are trying hard to turn these girls’ lives around and hopefully this young lady will get the help she needs.