ARSON - MASSENA - A Massena woman had her bail set at $750 cash or $1,500 bond at her arraignment Thursday afternoon after being charged with setting a comforter on fire earlier in the day during a domestic dispute at her Water Street residence.
Village police charged Keitha A. Durant, 24, of 171 Water St., Apt. 1, Massena, with fifth-degree arson, second-degree reckless endangerment, second-degree harassment, fourth-degree criminal mischief, endangering the welfare of a child and unlawful possession of marijuana.
Police said the argument started shortly before 9:30 a.m. Thursday when Andrew Rafter, 26, same address, was critical of her plan, noting her departure leaving him with the two children, ages 1 and nearly 3, was a common occurrence.
Durant reportedly then told Rafter she was going to take the children and he would never see them again. She also reportedly punched him in the face, started breaking items in the apartment and set a comforter on fire when the couple were having a tug of war over bedding. The one-year-old child was reportedly in the bedroom when the argument took place.
I was just waking up, and Keitha told me she was leaving. Keitha leaves all the time and leaves our kids with me for the day. I told her she needed to stay and spend more time with her kids, Mr. Rafter noted in his statement.
He said Durant became enraged and started packing things up. She grabbed the comforter off of me and said it was hers. I started pulling back saying the comforter was mine and staying here. She lit the comforter on fire with her lighter, he told police.
Mr. Rafter said he put the fire out and grabbed his phone to call his father, but Durant grabbed the phone and started being it in an apparent attempt to break it. He told police he was able to grab his phone back but as he was walking away from Ms. Durant she punched him in the face, splitting his lip open.
He recalled Durant started taking items to her vehicle and on one trip through the kitchen grabbed a speaker box that she had given him as a present from the kitchen table and smashed it on the floor. Then she said, Merry ... Christmas, he noted.
Mr. Rafter said a short time later Durant grabbed the one-year-old child out oh his arms and took off in her vehicle with both children. She told me that was the last time I was going to see my kids, he said.
Police said Durant returned to the residence as they were arriving on the scene of the domestic dispute complaint.
They said after being taken into custody Durant asked officers to secure her vehicle for her. They said when they went to her vehicle they saw a bag of marijuana in plain view.
Massena Village Justice Eric J. Gustafson set bail and also signed temporary orders of protection directing Durant to stay away from Mr. Rafter and not to harass, annoy or alarm the two children.