A 57-year-old babysitter named Martha Dreher pled not guilty to arson charges placed against her earlier this month, despite strong evidence.
According to The American-Statesman, the Austin woman was babysitting two young boys on Aug. 9 at their mothers’ home. She also babysat them under the care of their father, Glenn Williams, who was out-of-town with the boys’ two preteen sisters on the night in question. While watching the boys, Martha made an excuse about going to the father’s house to get some popcorn. Security footage showed she arrived at the residence around 9 p.m. A blaze started 25 minutes later, shortly before Martha was recorded driving away. She allegedly told cops she “never saw a fire.”
The homeowner’s teenage son returned home later that night to find a fire smoldering on one of his sister’s beds. Investigators later determined it was arson because the girls’ unconnected bedrooms were the only ones affected. Broken eggs were also found on the floor and bed in one room.
“They could have set the whole house on fire, and they actually closed the doors so the fire was maintained in those rooms and burned itself out. So it was definitely a vendetta against the two girls,” Glenn told KVUE.
Although Martha pled not guilty, she told investigators she confronted the father about being unable to watch his daughters any longer because she thought they were “out of control, lacking respect for her and having disciplines issues.”
Glenn said the family must gut their historic home because of the fire damage. When the charges were initially filed, Martha faced a potential 99 years in prison. Now that she’s pled not guilty, it’s unclear what sentence she faces.