At the wee hour of 1:15 AM on Tuesday, the 29th day of December, 2009, firefighters arrive at a blazing residence, 1580 Huntington Lane, Clearwater, Florida. A desperate woman, blackened with soot, cries out in the dark: “Where’s my baby, where’s my baby!”
Just 15 minutes before, two angst-filled teens enter the bedroom of this sleeping woman, and with a gasoline can in hand, they generously douse the floor and bed with petrol, light the accelerator, then make a hasty getaway in the burning woman’s 2007 Ford Focus.
The two teens were arrested early Tuesday for attempted murder and arson resulting in injury. The 15 year old boy was charged with grand theft of Broadhead’s 2007 Ford Focus.
Samantha Broadhead, one of the accused teens, is the 11 year old daughter of the burn victim, Nancy Broadhead. The 15 year old boy accused of these crimes is Jack Ault, a youth with a troubled past.
Luckily, Nancy Broadhead escaped the fire because of a functioning smoke alarm. She did however sustain burns to her head and hands. She was treated at Tampa General Hospital for burns and smoke inhalation, but was released Wednesday afternoon.
Normally a case such as this one would pass us by unnoticed, but this one is very different. This case has a maze of paper, a winding path of troubling documents, coming from the court systems, and from social agencies such as the Florida state Department of Children and Families.
And it’s not just Nancy Broadhead that has a checkered past. The accused teen, Jack Ault, a boyfriend of her daughter Samantha, has been arrested 7 times since 2003. Five of those arrests have occurred in 2009 alone. And that’s not all of it. Nancy’s exes and boyfriends, some who have fathered her three children, have elaborate criminal records themselves.
Yet a Clearwater police spokeswoman, Elizabeth Watts, has said that the mother and daughter got in a row over cigarettes the previous day (December 28th). This may have been a catalyst, an enactment of teenage rage, but something more sinister lurks beneath the surface of this explanation.
Yet the row over ciggies could have been an immediate trigger, a straw that broke the camel’s back. The teens were now so enraged that action would need to be taken, maternal homicide. The combination of teen personalities may have been a factor as well. I can’t help but remember the case of Charlie Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate, who went on a killing spree in late 1957.
It is very rare that a child will kill or attempt to kill a parent. A professor of criminology at the University of South Florida, Kathleen Heide, has said there are only about 100 cases per year of children slaying their parents each year.
“When you have a girl accused of killing or attempting to kill a parent, it’s very, very rare,” Heide has stated. (Drugs, discord way of life…by Dominick Tow and Rita Farlow with David DeCamp a contributor-St Petersburg Times-1/01/2010)
Nancy Broadhead’s entire life is being exposed in the media now. I will link two articles for you that best chronicle Nancy’s troubled life. To sum up her problems would fill up an entire book. But a few items caught my eye and I will share them with you now.
Basically, it comes down to alcohol and drug abuse, child beating, money woes and some poor judgment in choosing romantic companionship. I’ve even heard that she once consorted with an odd character, Frank Lucky, who was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. In 1989 Nancy and Frank attended a Klan rally in Arcadia, according to the St. Petersburg Times.
As far as the money problems go, there house in Clearwater is in foreclosure, and Broadhead owes $216,768.97. That’s an expensive house for a woman whose occupation was a waitress, and who earned less than $300 a month from mere tips. I am thinking that the money problems may have been a motive for Samantha also. The argument over cigarettes is at its roots, financial in nature.
Absolutely, I will write more on this case. Local reporters on the beat in Tampa are doing a superb job at bringing the details of Nancy Broadhead’s sordid life to the public. Because this is such a heinous crime, of ‘juvenile matricide,’ this will become a popular national story.
Talk shows, such as Jane Velez-Mitchell and Nancy Grace, will amplify every vivid, excruciating detail, to millions. Whether this case is characterized as a misdeed, a crime or merely as a victim of social circumstances, will depend on the judgment of experts, criminal psychologists or even the public at large.
The gutted, charred domicile at 1580 Huntington Lane, Clearwater, Florida, will be driven by, leered at, and digitally photographed a million times over. And poor Nancy, Samantha and Jack will be hounded constantly by small time i-reporters, until their already miserable lives will be consumed by a woe of cruel misfortune.
Pangs of guilt grip me as I type, but more will come your way. The set of facts in this case are too overwhelming to let it rest. Yet suddenly a frightful truth hits me: Anonymity must be paradise, if your name happens to be Nancy Broadhead!
Tampa Bay Online-Burned mother, family are well known to authorities:
St Petersburg Times-Drugs, discord way of life at household where girl accused of setting mom ablaze: