Boy charged with arson after 10-year-old with special needs set on fire

Published: Thursday, October 06, 2016 @ 11:15 AM
Updated: Thursday, October 06, 2016 @ 12:47 PM

A 10-year-old boy with special needs is fighting for his life after he was set on fire by another child, an act that his family has said was intentional.

Kayden Culp was burned Sunday afternoon in his hometown of Kerrville, Texas. His mother, Tristyn Hatchett, told KSAT 12 News in San Antonio that Kayden is in a medically induced coma with burns over 20 percent of his body, “from his ears to his belly and under his arms.”

Hatchett told the San Antonio Express-News that she last spoke to her son in the ambulance, when he asked for a hug and a kiss.

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She said Kayden was burned when he went to play in a vacant lot with some other children. She told the San Antonio Express-News that a relative of one of the children told her one boy poured gasoline on her son and another used a lighter to set him on fire. 

“To know that someone deliberately did this is almost unbearable,” Hatchett told KSAT 12 News.

At a news conference Thursday morning, however, Fire Marshal Chris Lee said officials do not believe the other child, who has been charged with first-degree arson, intended to hurt Kayden. Lee said that a shed on the lot had already been ignited when the suspect poured gas on the fire. It caused a flash fire that burned Kayden, Lee said. 

Lee and police officials said there was no premeditated attempt to harm any of the four boys present at the time of the fire, KSAT 12 News reported. They could not yet say if any of the other boys -- or any parents -- would face additional charges. 

Following the news conference, Hatchett posted on her Facebook page that her son needed a lawyeer. 

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Kayden's family told the Express-News that Kayden, who has impaired hearing and a speech disorder, was bullied by other children because of his disabilities.

“They make fun of him,” his aunt, Alike Richardson, told the newspaper. “He gets beat up in Carver Park every time he goes up there. That’s just the way it is. The kids are really mean.”

Despite the poor treatment, Kayden considered the children his friends, his relatives said.

“He considered these guys his friends, but they would make fun of him and pick on him and tease him,” his mother said. “He was usually the brunt of that kind of joke, but he kept playing with them.”

The family reported late Wednesday night on a GoFundMe page set up to help with Kayden’s expenses that he remained on life support and was fighting a lung infection. Hatchett said Thursday morning on Facebook that his condition had improved a bit. 

Update:Kayden is doing a little better today . They have taken him off the epinephrine. He was able to stabilize his...

Posted by Tristyn Hatchett on Thursday, October 6, 2016

As of Thursday morning, the GoFundMe page had surpassed its goal of $5,000. A note said that the money would not “fix everything,” but it would allow Kayden’s parents to remain at his side and with their three other children while he fights to recover.

“Kayden is going to change the world, and he is now a voice for other children that are dealing with a ‘bully,’” the page read. “Let's do our part for Kayden. We love u sweet boy. #TEAMKAYDEN.”

A second fundraising page on YouCaring.com had raised more than $52,000.