Father denies knowing daughter was in chains
I can't wait to hear the response for this one.
Sounds like daddy did a little extermination.
CLARKSVILLE — Lloyd Lee Holt knew his 10-year-old daughter was restrained in her bedroom the night she died in a house fire, but he insisted he didn’t know she was chained to her bed.
The assertion was in his taped statement played to a Johnson County Circuit Court jury Thursday, the first day of Holt’s trial on charges of manslaughter and first-degree false imprisonment.
“I heard her yelling,” he told Arkansas State Police investigator Kim Warren the morning after 10-year-old Molly Holt died Nov. 9, 2003. “I tried to get to Molly’s room and then there was so much smoke and so much flame. I heard Molly calling me, ‘ Daddy, I’m going to die. ’”
Holt, 34, and his wife, Teresa Dick Holt, 33, were charged in Molly’s death after authorities found her remains in her bedroom and discovered that she had been chained by the ankle to her bed and was unable to escape the flames.
A Johnson County jury convicted Teresa Holt of manslaughter and first-degree false imprisonment in May 2004. She was sentenced to 14 years in prison.
Forensic anthropologist Elayne Pope who was called in by state medical examiner’s office after the fire to reconstruct Molly’s position in the bedroom, concluded Molly was under her bed when she died and that her left leg was chained to the bed.
“She couldn’t escape out the window,” Prosecuting Attorney David Gibbons said in his opening statement to the jury. “She couldn’t escape out the door. She couldn’t do anything but scream and hope that someone would save her.”
The couple claimed they had to restrain Molly because she had behavioral problems. She attacked her two younger siblings, attacked students and teachers at school and often was uncontrollable, Lloyd Holt said. The couple sought help from hospitals, counselors and school officials, but nothing worked, Lloyd Holt told Warren.
The Holts decided to restrain Molly at night because she would get up during the night and get into trouble. Once, Molly’s mother caught her put- ting a pillow over the face of her baby brother Briar, the Holts told police after the fire.
But Lloyd Holt said in his statement that his wife took care of the children and he never went into Molly’s bedroom. They decided together that Molly needed to be restrained at night, but it was Teresa Holt who actually applied the restraints.
The cause of the fire that destroyed the 70-year-old wood house in rural Johnson County has never been determined. But Lloyd Holt said in his statement he believed Molly set the fatal fire herself.
He said that the day before the fire, he had caught Molly burning a piece of paper in the space heater in her bedroom. The space heater remained in the room, though, and firefighters and deputies searching through the rubble found it next to Molly’s bed.
There were inconsistencies in Holt’s statements and his actions after the fire. Just after the fire, he told Chief Deputy Sheriff Jerry Dorney he knew of no chains being used to restrain Molly.
Lloyd Holt’s cousin Henry Holt of Springdale testified he saw chains and a leather leash on Molly’s bed, and Lloyd Holt explained the chains were needed to control Molly.
Rural resident John Wood testified he drove to the house the night of the fire and drove the Holts and their two surviving children to Holt’s brother’s home. Wood said he asked if anyone was still in the house, and Holt responded there wasn’t.
Holt’s daughter Madeline said her sister was still in the house, but her father said she had left the day before, Wood said.
Wood also said he offered Holt his cell phone so he could call for help, but Holt declined, saying he already had made the necessary calls.
Wood said he picked up the family about 11 : 15 p. m., but a sheriff’s dispatcher said the first report of the fire was made by Holt’s sister-in-law about 12 : 30 a. m. Nov. 10.
Testimony continues at 9 a. m. today.