Police arrest woman accused of setting home on fire in attempt to kill self, son

LAWRENCEBURG, Ind. - Indiana police say a mother, accused of intentionally setting her home on fire in an attempt to kill herself and her 4-year-old son, was arrested in Hamilton County Friday.

Vanessa Dean of Lawrenceburg faces charges of neglect of a dependent, arson, and attempted murder.

On Oct. 13, 2011, flames ripped through a residence at 19323 Alpine Dr. in Dearborn County.  After a lengthy investigation, detectives determined that the fire was intentionally set.

"We had to dig out the entire basement to determine the cause of the fire," said fire investigator and Greenwood Polices Sgt. Kevin Turner.  

Dean escaped the home with burns on her face and hands.  Neighbors rescued Dean's 4-year-old son from the house.

According to a probable cause affidavit from the Dearborn County Clerk of Courts, Dean admitted to an emergency worker at the scene that she started the fire.

"I locked us in and poured gas over everything," said Dean, as quoted in the court document.  "I was trying to kill us because the police are going to come and get me and take my baby away and give me lethal injections to kill me."

When Dean's son was asked if he knew how the fire started, he was quoted as saying, "Mommy."

According to the Greendale Fire Chief, the burns that Dean sustained were consistent with "flashburns." Those are injuries typically attained from using an accelerant, like gasoline, when starting a fire.  It took more than three months to charge Dean with the three crimes.  That is because investigators had to collect more evidence than just statements.

"An arson investigation is one of the most difficult investigations that any police officer or firefighter's going to do," said Sgt. Turner. "Your evidence burns up."

Authorities informed Dean's attorney that there was a warrant for her arrest. Police arrested her during a traffic stop in Hamilton County. She is currently being held at the Hamilton County Justice Center.

After the fire, Dean's son left with  family members, but no one could comment on his current whereabouts.

Stay with 9 News and WCPO.com for updates on this story.

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