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Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Woman charged with burning down grandfather’s house in money spat

Autumn Rose Walker
Autumn Rose Walker

A 23-year-old Eustis woman previously arrested for battering an elderly person is back behind bars after she admitted to setting a fire that burned down her grandfather’s home.

Autumn Rose Walker was charged with first-degree arson in connection with Monday’s blaze, which destroyed the residence at 2220 Titcomb St. where Walker lived with her grandfather. Lake County Jail records show Walker was charged in February 2021 with domestic battery on a person 65 years of age or older and arrested last February for violating her probation.

Eustis police arrived at the residence and found it engulfed with flames shooting out the northeast bedroom windows. Eustis firefighters put out the fire but not before the home was declared a total loss, according to the police report.

Officers spoke with several witnesses. The first said he saw a white female standing behind a green SUV with what appeared to be a white rag that she lit on fire. The witness said he went inside his house and came out a few minutes later to see the neighboring home on fire. Another witness said he saw a white female walking eastbound on West Chesley Avenue who he recognized as the female who lives at the home, the report said.

A third witness told officers she was leaving work on West Chesley Avenue when she saw a white female stumbling in the roadway. She described the female as having short, patch hair and wearing dark makeup, a crop top with a long-sleeved shirt over it, and black pants. The witness took a picture of the female and gave it to officers, according to the report.

The homeowner told officers he got into an argument with his granddaughter, Autumn Walker, who claimed he owned her money. He said he told Walker he didn’t owe her money and she left the house, saying something like, “You’ll remember this.” He said he last saw her walking east on West Chesley Avenue, the report said.

A state fire marshal investigator inspected the northeast bedroom, which was where Walker stayed, and ruled out accidental ignition from an electrical outlet, according to the report.

Officers later found Walker walking on East Orange Avenue near Cricket Hollow Lane. She fit the description provided by witnesses and was wearing just one sock, which matched a singed sock found at the scene. Asked where she was coming from, Walker said she was coming from nowhere. Asked when she last talked to her grandfather, she replied, “(expletive deleted) him,” the report said.

Walker later admitted she had set her mattress on fire. Asked why she was upset with her grandfather, she said he sold two of her cars and didn’t give her any of the money. Walker, who has lived with her grandfather most of her life, said she was frustrated and wanted to escape. She said she set the mattress on fire because she didn’t want to have a place to come back to, according to the fire.

Walker said she left her bedroom with the mattress on fire. She said she went outside, lit a sock on fire and was going to put it in the gas tank of her grandfather’s green SUV, but she decided not to and left. Walker said she knew her grandfather was inside the house and figured he would put out the fire, the report said.

Walker was placed in handcuffs and searched. Inside her pocket was a blue Bic lighter and a pack of cigarettes. Walker said that was the lighter she used to set the mattress on fire. Before being placed in the back of the patrol car, Walker exclaimed, “I’m going to kill him,” according to the report.

Walker is being held on $12,000 bond and will appear in Lake County Court on Feb. 13.

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