Cops: Son Attacked for Skipping Sunday School
Mother Allegedly Tries to Kill Boy by Setting Fire

By Seamus McGraw
Nov. 7, 2000

WINTER PARK, Fla. Outraged that her 7-year-old son refused to go to Sunday school, a single mother allegedly tried to burn the boy to death in a bedroom, police said.

Karla Dee Griggs, 31, is being held without bail in the John E. Polk Correctional Facility. She is charged with attempted murder and child abuse, said Steven Olsen, a spokesman for the Seminole County Sheriff's Office.

Authorities said the incident began Sunday afternoon in the apartment that Griggs shares with her mother, son and 11-year-old daughter.

Griggs told police that the boy had refused to attend religious classes that day at a local church, so in anger she dragged him to a bedroom and set fire to a mattress, expecting the flames to kill her and the boy, Olsen said.

But the burning mattress generated more smoke than Griggs had expected. She and her mother, who was home at the time, doused the flames before anyone was injured, police said. Griggs' daughter was not home at the time.

Boy choked with belt

Griggs told police that she waited until her mother left the house to pick up granddaughter from Sunday services and tried again to kill the boy, this time by choking him with a belt, authorities said. She relented when he started to cry, police said. She then called 911, according to police reports.

Both the boy and his sister have been placed in the care of the state's child protective services agency, police said.

Authorities said Griggs is not under suicide watch at the jail. Her arraignment is scheduled for Nov. 28.

The arrest is the first for Griggs, and police say they have never been summoned to the family's Nautical Way apartment.

But Griggs has told police -- and her son has confirmed it -- that she has punched and hit the child in the past and that on one previous occasion she tried to choke him, authorities said.

Seamus McGraw is an staff writer

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