Charges: St. Paul woman terrorized family with butcher knife, gasoline
After striking her mother’s boyfriend in the head with a cooking pot and chasing him up and down the street with a butcher’s knife, a St. Paul woman soaked her mother’s home in gasoline, left a flaming sock on the stove and fled in her underwear before she was arrested, according to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday.
Sabrina Lajewel Grey, 22, was charged with first-degree attempted arson, second-degree assault and two counts of terroristic threats in Ramsey County District Court for a harrowing Tuesday evening domestic incident that escalated to a degree that shocked some first responders.
According to a criminal complaint:
Police arrived at the home, in the 1900 block of Foxridge Road in St. Paul’s Battle Creek neighborhood, just before 10 p.m. and found four nearby vehicles with their windows smashed in, some of their tires flattened, and clothes strewn about the lawn. Gasoline had been poured over the windshield and hood of a car in the home’s garage, and the home’s front picture window, side window and front-door window also were shattered.
Entering the home -- which reeked of gasoline -- officers found puddles of the accelerant poured throughout several rooms on every level. Overturned furniture lay everywhere. And in the kitchen, a sock -- flaming and smoldering -- sat on a stove burner with its temperature turned to "high."
Although smoke shrouded everything above shoulder-level and heavy gas fumes inundated everything beneath, one officer used a broom handle to knock the flaming sock from the stove into a nearby sink, where the officer then doused it with water.
"There was a lot (of gas). I could smell it standing outside," St. Paul Fire Marshal Steve Zaccard said Tuesday evening. "I’m sure glad it didn’t ignite -- it could have badly injured or killed some of our firefighters."
St. Paul police watch commander Steve Frazier also registered shock and concern Tuesday evening, noting his officers entered a home where they feared Grey may have been hiding, waiting to set it alight.
Grey’s 58-year-old mother, her 43-year-old live-in boyfriend, the boyfriend’s 20-year-old daughter and her 2-year-old daughter were waiting outside the home when officers arrived.
They said Grey -- who had been living in Texas for the past decade -- had appeared unannounced Friday, after hitchhiking into town. The mother told police Grey has an unspecified mental illness, and the family said she had been acting strangely throughout the day Tuesday: going in and out of the home, and sitting alone outside. In one instance, the boyfriend’s daughter awoke to find Grey standing over her, staring.
Tensions escalated that evening, as the boyfriend was grilling on the home’s back patio and watching a basketball game on TV.
Grey turned off the TV, the boyfriend turned it on, and "this went on several times," the complaint said.
Finally, the boyfriend said, "You better stop this (expletive)."
"This is my dad’s house," Grey replied.
"This ain’t your dad’s house no more. I pay the bills," he replied.
The boyfriend told police he then told Grey to "pack your stuff and leave." Grey poured water on his fire, and the boyfriend gathered Grey’s clothes and threw them in the front yard.
At that point, "all hell broke loose," the mother told police. Grey threw a pot of hot water from the stove at the boyfriend, grabbed a kitchen knife and chased him. Finally, she hit him in the back of the head with the pot -- before she chased him "up and down the street with the butcher’s knife," the complaint stated.
Grey’s mother said she saw Grey chase her boyfriend with a garden hoe, which she also used to smash windows of her home and her cars. Then Grey grabbed a gas can, poured gasoline throughout the house and tried to set the carpet aflame with a grill lighter.
The boyfriend’s daughter told police Grey came into her bedroom, holding a gas can, and told her, "you need to get out of the house," before pouring gas "all over," the complaint added. The 20-year-old woman fled with her daughter.
Police caught up with Grey, who was walking along White Bear Avenue near the fire station at Burns Avenue, clad only in a sweatshirt and underwear, with a cut across her palm.
She told police, according to the complaint, that she had cut her hand when she tried to stab her mother’s boyfriend.
Grey was being held in the Ramsey County Jail on Wednesday with bail set at $80,000. The terms of her release also are contingent on having no contact with the four people she allegedly terrorized Tuesday, or the home on Foxridge Road.