Palm Beach County teens accused of ransacking, burning classmate's home
Family is torn apart, without home
5:49 PM, Nov 12, 2013
11:55 AM, Nov 13, 2013
LANTANA, Fla. - It appears to be a real life case of mean girls.
Palm Beach County Sheriff's deputies arrested Abigail Benitez, 17, and Lousette Sena, 16, for ransacking and setting fire to the home of a fellow Santaluces High School student, according to arrest affidavits.
"That's incredible. That's terrible," said Michael Keleher who witnessed the September 12th fire.
Benitez and Sena have been charged as adults and remain in the Palm Beach County Jail on $20,000 bond each.
Crews discovered all of the burners on the range in the kitchen area turned on at their highest setting. A mattress in one of the bedrooms was also ablaze and dressers in the bedroom were also thrown to the floor, investigators said.
"It didn't have to go this far. Not only did they burn their house up, but they broke their family up," said Stella Penrod, a family friend.
Penrod said the damage goes beyond the house. John Carrol, who owns the home, is currently in the Palm Beach County Jail for an alleged DUI. His daughter is now without a father, home and is terrified to go back to school.
"Not only did they have the audacity to steal their electronics, then they had the audacity to burn down their house to where it's not even livable, that's mean," said Penrod.
A neighbor captured surveillance video of two females walking down Henrietta Ct. the day of the fire, carrying a pink suitcase that had been reported missing from the home.
The two daughters of the home's owner go to school with the teenage suspects.
Benitez was seen by another classmate wearing jewelry and in possession of other items that belonged to the victims.
Benitez also reportedly told a friend that she stole things and set fire to the Carroll residence.
The suspect told the friend that she sold the belongings for money, including a "bong," the arrest affidavit states.
When a friend asked Benitez, "How could you set a girl's house on fire? What were you thinking?" Benitez allegedly responded that she thought it was funny and that the fire was being blamed on another student at Santaluces High School, the friend told investigators. Benitez also allegedly told the friend that she took a bunch of items from the Carroll residence and put them in a pink suitcase.
The two are charged with grand theft, burglary and arson.
"I feel bad for the girls, but if you do the crime, you're going to have to do the time. And it's a shame, they're young," said Penrod.
The Palm Beach County School District said since the alleged incident did not happen on school grounds, they will not investigate. If the two girls do face punishment, that would remain confidential.