Woman accused of setting nursing home bed on fire in court - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Woman accused of setting nursing home bed on fire in court


A woman accused of setting an elderly woman's nursing home bed on fire while the woman was sleeping in bed had her preliminary hearing on March 8 in Stoddard County.

Joyce Johnson, 59, of Campbell is charged with elder abuse 1st degree and arson 1st degree.

Johnson is accused of using a lighter to start a fire on the bed of her mother's roommate while she was sleeping.

Testimony was heard Thursday from the investigating officer. The court bound the defendant over to Division I to stand trial.

Her next court appearance is scheduled for March 21 before Judge Stephen R. Sharp.

A smoke detector in the room alerted employees to the fire where they found flames above the bed.  Employees woke up the 73-year-old woman who is an Alzheimer's patient.  She was not injured.

According to the probable cause statement, Johnson was visiting her 96-year-old mother at the Golden Living Center in Dexter when she lit her mother's roommate's bed on fire on Nov. 26, 2011.

According to a written report by Det. Trevor Pulley, Johnson first denied any involvement with the fire, then admitted involvement to Pulley in another interview.

Johnson admitted to police that she was upset with the nursing home over care for her mother and set the fire with a lighter as a "cry for help," according to the probable cause statement.

She told police did not have a problem with her mother's roommate and didn't have anything against her.  She told police she did not intend to hurt anyone.

She also told police she lit the fire and walked down the hall to her cousin's room.

Johnson's bond is set at $35,000 cash only.

The Golden Living Center released the following statement about the incident.

"The safety and well-being of our patients and residents is a responsibility we take very seriously. We do not tolerate illegal or inappropriate behavior of any kind at our LivingCenter, or any behavior that compromises the dignity or safety of our patients and residents.

When a small fire in one of our resident rooms was discovered, we immediately implemented our safety procedures. The fire was extinguished, and nobody was injured. We called the Fire Department and asked them to examine the room and determine the cause of the fire. Because the fire was determined to be of unknown origin at the time, the police were contacted. We have cooperated fully with the authorities in their investigation of this matter.

We will continue to take all necessary steps to ensure the safety and well being of our residents."

Joyce Johnson's daughter, Rosie Noble, told Heartland News that her mother is being wrongly accused in this matter.

"I know my mom, and I don't believe she would ever do anything like that to hurt my grandmother or anyone else," said Rosie Noble.

Noble has a theory about how the fire could have started.

"The bed is close to a heater, and it gets hot to the touch," said Noble. She indicated the heater may have sparked the fire.

Noble also says her mother failed a lie detector test, but says her mother has a number of medical conditions such as depression and bi-polar disorder that Noble believes could cause the test to be invalid.

Noble also says when officers arrested her mother on Wednesday that they did not read her mother her Miranda rights.

Copyright 2012 KFVS. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly