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Omaha, NE — A 10-year-old girl and her 12-year-old brother were charged with arson this week for starting a fire that left their mother’s boyfriend in critical condition, suffering burns to nearly half his body.

According to prosecutors, the alleged firebugs and their two siblings had been left in the care of an uncle Thursday evening, while mom and her boyfriend went out partying. The couple returned home shortly before the fire started and went to bed.

After watching an episode of Tom and Jerry at about 4:30 Friday morning, prosecutors say the dangerous duo poured a ring of gasoline around the bed where their mother and her boyfriend, 37-year-old Jermain Westbrook, were sleeping, then set it on fire.

Mom, Tanesha Beard, awoke immediately, but was unable to rouse her sleeping beau. Beard and the children managed to escape the home unharmed.

Westbrook, however, wasn’t so lucky. Firefighters rescued him from the second-story bedroom, but not before he had suffered smoke inhalation and third-degree burns to nearly half of his body.

At a juvenile court hearing later that same day, Beard apparently interrupted the proceeding and declared that she was the one that set the fire. She was escorted out of the courtroom and her children were ordered held at Youth Links –  a program for at-risk youths that provides an out-of-home setting with a lower security level than the Douglas County Youth Center.

Both children are now facing charges of first-degree arson and two counts each of first-degree assault. Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said authorities, including counselors and therapists, will be looking into whether there were “deeper” motives.

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Comments


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  • Daringdove

    They knew exactly what they were doing. I seriously doubt the cartoon had anything to do with their decision to turn their mom and her boyfriend into human hot dogs roasting over an open fire. At 10 years old, I knew the difference between right and wrong and that was…well, let’s just say that was at least two decades ago. Kids nowadays are much less innocent, imo, and grow up faster. Now, if they were four years younger, maybe I could buy the whole cartoon influence defense, but at their ages? No way.

  • JohnQknowitall

    315 million people in this country + all those who died in the last 50 years and those around the world who have seen these same cartoons – that must be at least couple of dozen…. and then suddenly these two set a fire that would kill two people as a result of watching these cartoons? 

    Hmmm…. Yes we need to ban all cartoons to keep the next twisted person from having an excuse for his/her crimes.

  • Tenbux

    I’ve known some heavy sleepers, but how in the shit can you be “unable” to wake someone up while their bed is on fire?  Was he out drinking GHB instead of alcohol?
    If the kids were just tossing matches around, I might buy the excuse.  But they had to hunt down a gas can from a utility room or shed.  That’s a wee bit too deliberate for a “TV satan made us do it!”

  • reapre

    Same thing happens with school shootings, I believe it was columbine where they claimed it was “Music from Marilyn Manson”

    It’s just trying to pass the blame, or to further someone’s personal agenda for their specific hatred. Wait, this is all sounding like church…wonder when there will be protests and lawsuits against Sponge Bob for “turning their son gay.” “he wouldna been gay if it weren’t for that cartoon!!” yeah, surrrre.

    Sorry for the rant…

  • JohnQknowitall

    I cannot speak for other people, but Sponge Bob {Gasp!!! and then dramatically suck air into the nostils fast} made me gay.  {Snotty Sob!!!} And what the Cabbage Patch Kids did at my elementary school dance to that teacher at school tortures me to this day. {Snotty Sob, Snotty Sob}

  • FrikkenFrak

    Puh LEEZ!!!

    The f’ing cartoon didn’t make them do a damn thing unless they are the stupidest kids in America. 
    What are they gonna do next?  Go stand in the street and let an truck flatten them like Wylie Coyote?

  • blubberdong

    Skin and hair will grow back.  Well, it always did for Wile E. Coyote.

  • Beavis and Butthead were blamed in the death of a 2-year-old who died in a mobile home fire set by a 5-year-old. The parent said their kid was mimicking Beavis. Although it was later shown the family didn’t even have cable, Beavis was no longer able to yell “Fire! Fire!” and the earlier episodes in which he did were censored,

    Beavis and Butthead were also blamed in a case whre some kids tossed a bowling ball off a freeway overpass. The kids supposedly learned the stunt from watching and episode of BaB, Once again, it was proven that the family didn’t even have cable.

  • Eliza Berntsen

    Thank God those kids didn’t watch Happy Tree Friends or, my personal favourite, Salad Fingers is all I am going to say.

  • impqueen

    I’m wondering. Is Tom and Jerry even on at 4:30 AM in Omaha?  Because this could really be a case of “I wanna off my boyfriend and the kids will take the heat because they’re juveniles and didn’t know what they were doing.”  I’m not saying that’s what happened, but it could have gone down that way, given that Mom admitted she did it in court.

    Or, Mom’s a complete idiot and really wants those two arsonist children living in her house. Whatta maroon.

  • I’m going to assume for a moment that they really were “inspired” by a Tom & Jerry cartoon to set their mom’s bed on fire.  We all get inspired by things we see on TV, hear on the radio or read in books.  Whether we act on that inspiration and/or how we act on it is up to us.  I don’t understand why people want to blame outside influences for people’s idiotic choices.  I could see the concern or outrage if they were watching a cartoon in which the main character said, “Now, kids, today we’re going to learn how to set things on fire!  Doesn’t that sound like fun?”  Although if they went out and did it, I’d still question their intelligence and their parents’ competence.  Doing stuff because someone directly told you to is a sign you might be stupid.

    If they didn’t know the difference between what was going on in a cartoon and real life, then perhaps they shouldn’t have been allowed to watch cartoons.  If that’s how it really happened.  Normal people, and even the majority of abnormal people, don’t go around setting people/things on fire.  Fire is cool, but not when it gets out of control.  Good servant, bad master.  Either way, this is more involved than a couple of dumb kids watching cartoons and deciding to recreate it.

  • Wildheart

    I was thinking that very same thing.

  •  Yes, I remember when Beavis and Butt-Head were blamed for kids being destructive.  My brother was so pissed off that people took that seriously.  I remember his rant quite well–“I’m surrounded by idiots!  Some idiots can’t tell the difference between fantasy and reality and other idiots decide to change things to protect those idiots!”  I did not know, however, that neither of the kids involved in these incidents could have been inspired (mind-controlled, the way people are acting about it) because they didn’t have cable and thus could not have seen those episodes.  Vely intelesting…

  • Lena60

    With any luck.

  • Lena60

    hmmm? Iam not buying it.Where the hell did they get the gasoline?10 and 12 and they really don’t know any better?Either mom actually did it and blamed the kids, or they are some retarded fucked up kids.Cartoons my ass!

  •  Shit, I’m grown and I still worry about having to light candles, grills, water heaters, etc. Somehow these kids were inspired by a cartoon? Bullshit. Either they are indeed evil little children or their mother DID do it. WTF is wrong with humans? We are so fucked.

  • onlyme356

    No way a 10 and 12 year old got the idea from watching Tom and Jerry. At that age you are well aware of what you are doing. Another thing, why are children awake at 4:30 am watching cartoons? 6 am..maybe but 4:30? Something is not right there. Perhaps the mother planned on killing the boyfriend and thought that if she had her children do it, or say they did itm they could all get away with it and in court she felt guilty to watch her children take the rap. Lots of questions and I’m curious to know what really happened.

  • OT Lena look at you!!! Quite attractive chica! Now I feel guilty that I haven’t posted a pic yet. 🙁

    You in the forums? I’m PM my mugshot to you. LOL I’m Lovemyfamily in there.

  • lespacino

     All I know is that the boyfriend probably tastes “like soot and poo!”

  • lespacino

    Great, now I can’t get the Itchy and Scratchy theme song out of my head!

  • TheMeaningOfItAll

    Tom and Jerry can be on in the early mornings around here.  I have turned it on at the butt-crack of dawn when my kids get up and won’t go back to bed.  It’s hit and miss, though–some days it will be on all day and other days it won’t be on at all.  There are different reports about what time the kids were up.  One news story I read said it was 5:00 a.m. ((not that it’s that much of a difference)).  In the comments section of one of the news stories, people are saying that we need to just wait because there will be more information coming out as to why they did what they did.  Here’s a quote from the article I read:
    http://www.wowt.com/home/headlines/143953576.html “Rick Martinson, a neighbor, went to the home to help after his wife woke him up to the screams. Martinson says when he got there he saw Westbrook badly burned and hanging out of a second story window.”I was just telling him keep breathing and he just kept saying ok,please hurry, please hurry,” says Martinson.Half a block away, Joe Fuxa also heard Westbrook’s screams and called police. After seeing him hanging out the back window, Fuxa, a retired Omaha Assistant Fire Chief grabbed a fire extinguisher from police and went inside.”I went to the top of the stairs. Once I reached that point the heat was too hot to advance any farther, but I was able to get the extinguisher on the fire”.Westbrook’s girlfriend, Tanesha Beard and her four children were in the front yard when firefighters and officers arrived. Investigators believe two of those children, a 10-year-old girl and a 12-year-old boy set Westbrook on fire with an accelerant while he was in bed.”

  • FrikkenFrak

    They are totally to blame for me stupidly saying T P FOR MY BUNGHOLE at the top of my lungs.  I should sue.  ; D

  • FrikkenFrak

    Man, I LOVE this excuse!  

    This means we can do neat shit like drop anvils on someone’s head or flatten someone with a mallet and blame it on Looney Tunes and Hanna Barbera.

  • kimbev69

    I am thinking mom and bf dont treat the kids very well, dig a bit deeper see whats goin on

  • JGo555

    Hmmm maybe the kids decided to blame it on the cartoons after being molested by steppennis & had enough… and mom was gonna get it too for not defending them…

  • JGo555

    Hmmm maybe the kids decided to blame it on the cartoons after being molested by steppennis & had enough… and mom was gonna get it too for not defending them…

  • Lena60

    Thank you, I did it for you 🙂 No, Iam not in the forums, because I forgot my password and no one seems to want to send it to me.:(

  • newstarshipsmell

    Damn, reading the article, all I could think of was HTF, but you beat me to it! Heh heh.

    I will say, Mom totally failed when she tried to cover for the kids. Instead, she should have just offered the court to only date convicted pedophiles until they’re grown up.

  • Whatever the case may be I personally think we should send the little bastards into the corn fields  a little earlier then normal.  I’m pretty sure Malachi and He Who Walks Behind The Rows would welcome these children of the corn with open arms.

  • malq

    Man, we were all 3 stooges fanatics. We copied all their stupid isms and even sounded like Curley. but we never poked anyone in the eye or hit each other over the head with a skillet.
    either cartoons is just an excuse for juvenile psychosis, or Mom did it.

    I looked for studies online correlating childrens violence and cartoons and found a 3 year study that suggests otherwise.
    [QUOTE]The study found that most violence is glamorized and sanitized. Across
    the three years of the study, nearly 40% of the violent incidents on
    television are initiated by “good” characters who are likely to be
    perceived as attractive role models. The long-term negative consequences
    of violence are portrayed in only 15% of programs, when averaged over
    the three years. “These patterns teach children that violence is
    desirable, necessary, and painless,” said Dr. Dale Kunkel, associate
    professor of communication at UCSB, and a senior researcher for the
    study.[QUOTE]

    http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/resources/research_documents/reports/violence/nat_tv_violence.cfm
     
    Not sure I agree with this, Violence can be sanitized, but not condoned by TV.
    It’s like you don’t give a shit anymore that there are beer bottles on the side of the road, but you don’t litter.

  • I feel a lot of the new games out there are more dangerous than “tom and jerry”  Why didn’t they just pick up a chair and try to smash the adults? That I’d be more apt to believe. Not a fire.

  •  my quotes work!!!

  • malq

    What did I do wrong? You can see my quote brackets. How do you do it?

  • TheMeaningOfItAll

    My quotes didn’t work either…or I’m just a dumbass who doesn’t know what she’s doing.

  • EveryVillainIsLemons

    I’m not as eager to throw the kids under the bus as my fellow readers.  Maybe the kids were sick of Mommie Dearest choosing to party and make her pet penis the center of her life instead of spending time with them and their two siblings.  Just the same, though, I find it interesting that the kids waited until their mother and her boyfriend were asleep before getting gasoline, putting a ring of it around the bed, and setting it on fire.  Sure, the kids might be that clever on their own, but I can’t help feeling that there might have been some adult influence in there.

  • wyrosjr

    Accountability and responsibility are two words often absent in the lexicon of today. If people(children included) can’t be held accountable for their actions, the whole thing is a house of cards.

  • Zazen

    Huh, the city I live in and I missed this. Well, I can’t be blamed for my inattention; we’re all still talking about the meth head who won the Darwin award by playing with explosives on his back porch a few weeks back.

    As for these kids, I can’t help but think there may have been some abuse involved. My nephews watch some pretty violent stuff (i.e. video games, and the oldest is a Game of Thrones devotee) and they’re really good boys. I can only assume they’re not planning the child abuse rendition of ‘The Burning Bed’ because they’re being raised well.

  • sheevaa

    Well, I can say that I am an incredibly heavy sleeper, just on my own. Add alcohol to that mix and I ain’t getting up even if the apocalypse is happening around me.

    Other thing I was thinking is if he had alcohol and smoke inhalation, that could have kept him unconscious as well. 

  • newstarshipsmell

     “we’re all still talking about the meth head who won the Darwin award by
    playing with explosives on his back porch a few weeks back.”
    Nice, of course I had to look it up. How DD missed this one… beyond me. Of course there’s no shortage of stupid criminals and I can’t expect the writers to cover them all.

    http://www.omaha.com/article/20120307/NEWS01/120309729/103113
    http://www.wowt.com/home/headlines/House_Explosion_Victim_Dies_142406305.html
    http://www.facebook.com/people/Brad-Vanzago/1047515714

    No mention in there about him being involved with meth. Is that just local gossip?

  • Eliza Berntsen

    Nothing that a bit of mayo can’t improve.

  • Deety

    When I was a teenager, we used to draw anarchy symbols on the ground with lighter fluid, then light them up and stand around giggling and saying “Fire! Fire!” like Beavis.

    But if it hadn’t been for BaB, we undoubtedly would have found another inspiration for our dumbassery.

    And many years later (not confessing how many), I still play with fire…

  • Zazen

    I’d heard he was previously busted for cooking meth from a neighbor of his, so, hearsay.

  • I grew up watching numerous old school violent  Cartoons and I never attacked anyone with similar ideas gleamed from the Toons.If these children did this act then they knew exactly what they were doing,matters not where they got the idea from.When a person,regardless of age decides to kill,they will kill – cartoon watched,or not.

  • By influence I think they meant “idea”,as in that is where the idea originated.

  • People do suspect that Sponge Bob is gay … I have heard that a lot. 

  •  “how in the shit can you be “unable” to wake someone up while their bed is on fire?”

    Some people are deep sleepers,like sheevaa stated.Deaths like this happen fairly often with cigarette smokers;no gas needed.

  •  I attempted to use the forums a couple of times now but the whole register a second time thing is a turn off  … I registered for the site  (which is why I can comment here) – a second time for a different page on the same site seems unnecessary to me.

    I like your pic.

    Now back on topic – These kids need to be locked up and treated,otherwise they may get pissed off at another person eventually,and kill or injure them too in some way.

  • JohnQknowitall

    It is okay because his testosterone level is low for a sponge.

  • For some reason I am left thinking that these kids didn’t like this  boyfriend very much;I would be interested in knowing why not.

  • If you have cable then you can have cartoons 24 hours a day with channels like “Cartoon Network”.

  • “Doing stuff because someone directly told you to is a sign you might be stupid.”

    That depends on what the thing is that the person was told to do,as well as why they were told to do it.

    “Either way, this is more involved than a couple of dumb kids watching cartoons and deciding to recreate it.”

    I totally agree with you here – these kids might actually be very intelligent future killers.

  • You crack me up John  🙂

  • DangerousKindOfSnark

    Wow. People have way too much fucking free time on their hands if they’re concerned that a fictional cartoon sponge is gay. Perhaps they should check the wiki and learn that sponges are  both male and female and capable of reproducing asexually, that would really blow their little worry wart minds. Think of the hate one could blow around with that little tidbit of knowledge.

  •  Back when my boys were young I would allow them to stay up as late as they wanted to on weekends,or anytime there was no school.I know of a lot of parents who use this rule.For me it worked out well,and aided them in becoming responsible individuals at an early age.The rule never mattered much when they were really young though – I still remember taking them to the movies with me at night;no matter where we were at when 10:00 pm came the younger one would fall asleep like clockwork.

  • DangerousKindOfSnark

    A lot of people have gas can in their garages for various reasons like lawnmowers and other stuff that I don’t know about, but I know people mow lawns and those things use gas.

  • Spongbob being asexual makes total sense. He was the only one unaffected when Patrick was dressed as a woman. All of Bikini Bottom was trying to court her (him) but Spongbob wasn’t having any of that foolishness. Now his spatula on the other hand…that’s some kinda kinky going on there.

    Yes, I do have small children. 😉

  • I used to almost have to smack my mother for her to wake up…it was a nightmare. I was able to take off her work clothes, put on her pajamas and put her under the covers without her ever waking up when I was a little girl.

  • LeaveMeBe

    You and about a million other people. 🙂

    I, on the other hand, went around saying cornholio. *smh*

  • I love Sponge Bob;I have most every episode,and the movies all on DVD.

  • DangerousKindOfSnark

    Kids, shmids. I love Sponge Bob. Favorite episode is when they’re telling scary stories in the Krusty Krab about the spatula serial killer. Now if they would just bring back Invader Zim I could die happy.

  • LeaveMeBe

    I LOVE Invader Zim!

  • Onebestfriend

    Pleas estop this BS. You people do not know what happend that night or ahta happend before that night so stop bashing these people and let them be at peace. these are kids were talking about, and they are good kids in a bad situation. so please STFU…..My prayers go out to both families. God please wrap your arms around my friend,her children, and Jermaine.

  • Thank you for that…; /

    What did I do wrong? You can see my quote brackets. How do you do it?

    You’re using forum code out here and you have to use html code.

  • Lena60

    That is true, I was thinking for some reason this happened in an appartment complex, they usually do not have a garage, The story did not state that either way.

  • Lena60

    aww, you youngsters are all so cute!Sponge Bob .:)

  • steelpin

    it sounds like u know these peopleor you are a sick fuck to defend these kids.

  • steelpin

    they should have poured the gas on them then light it. that would have been funny. like the cartoons.

  • TheMeaningOfItAll

    The family members are saying the kids didn’t set the fire–that it was actually the mother.  Here’s a quote from a new article: 
    http://www.wowt.com/home/headlines/144151425.html 
    “The half-brother of the kids, David Vaughn, says that they didn’t set the room on fire, and believes it was actually their mother who was behind it. The young boy and girl are now at the Douglas County Youth Center charged with 1st Degree Arson.”I know that the mother was the one that caused the fire. She’s got them taking the blame for it to cover her up. We’ve got two little kids that are taking charges for something they didn’t do,” Vaughn described. “You’re supposed to protect your child, take care of them, and not put them in situations like this. This is not protecting your child.”The children’s father, wouldn’t go on camera, but did say that they are intelligent kids and know the consequences of setting a fire.”@Onebestfriend:disqus Please fill us in.  What happened that night and BEFORE that night?  Most people here are ambiguous about the kids setting the fire.  Your input could be valuable.

  • Wicked Smilee

    …them pants aint strait, there sponge-shaped.

  • Wicked Smilee

    I still do that periodically.  Only now, noone knows the heck I’m talkin’ about…  Kid’s today,….

  • Wicked Smilee

    Just for suggesting that a program the kid’s watched was the blame for this, is reason enough to take away the families right to ever own a TV again.

    Or a fork, or a pencil…  Dangerous idiots.

  • A mother was arrested Monday on suspicion of first-degree arson after her two children initially were charged in the crime.

    Relatives of the children said they didn’t do it. They said the mother,
    Tanesha Beard, started the fire to hurt her boyfriend, and then blamed
    her children because she thought they would escape serious punishment.

    Beard, 30, was jailed Monday on suspicion of arson and first-degree assault.

    Douglas County District Attorney Don Kleine said earlier in the day that
    the investigation was continuing despite the confessions of the
    12-year-old boy and 10-year-old girl.

    “Now we’ve heard other versions, so we want to make sure what’s right here,” Kleine said.

    Richard Winston, a cousin of the children’s father, said Beard blamed
    her children because “she thought they were going to get a slap on the
    hand, so she wouldn’t have to go to jail for it.”

    “She thought ‘We’ll all go home and be one big happy family,’?” Winston said.

    When the kids were charged with one count of first-degree arson and two
    counts of first-degree assault each, the mother tried to recant, Winston
    said.

    Beard, who could not be reached for comment Monday, interrupted a
    juvenile court hearing Friday and claimed she set the fire. Douglas
    County sheriff’s deputies removed her from the room.

    The Friday fire left Beard’s boyfriend, Jermaine Westbrook, in critical
    condition with third-degree burns. He was living with Beard and her four
    children at 13519 Atwood Ave.

    Winston said Beard called the children’s father, Cornelius Winston, after the fire and told him what happened.
    […]

    http://www.omaha.com/article/20120327/NEWS97/703279935/0

  • malq

     Thanks Angels Mom, your response was light years ahead of Shylo’s. Now I just have find out what HTML code is. Yes I am that stupid, or you are that smart  😉  seriously, thank you.

  • Do what I did below except use the word “blockquote” instead of example.

  •  YAAAAAAAAY!! You are an angel! Kudos

  • Pingback: Mom Admits Setting Fire, Tom And Jerry Off The Hook For Now | CrimeCrawlers!()

  • malq

    Do what I did below except use the word “blockquote” instead of example.  

    ta da!! 
    Word to the motha’,
    Thanks! sorry to bogart all the bandwith in this thread everybody, but it had to done. Now we know that closely guarded secret of the Ninja Posters. I am going to go show off now.

  • malq

    I knew it. Tom and Jerry are allllright!

  • Pingback: Black Mom Sets Fire To Home With Kids & Boyfriend Inside! Then Blames Kids!()