Boy claims 3 teens set him on fire

Teens tell police a different story
June 13, 2009 3:42:42 PM PDT
A boy was being treated for third-degree burns Saturday after claiming he was set on fire by three teenagers in the woods near his mother's home.Joshua Judkins, 9, says the boys poured rubbing alcohol on him.

The teens turned themselves in, but they were telling police a different story. They said it was all just an accident.

The incident happened in Hammond, Ind. earlier in the week.

The boy was recovering at Stroger hospital. He remained in intensive care Saturday evening and was awaiting surgery to help him heal. Joshua Judkins' family says doctors told them the child would need skin grafs to recover.

Investigators say the older boys, ages 13 and 14, came to the Hammond police station Friday to tell their side of the story. Judkins hold his parents all along that the boys, whom he met while visiting his mother, lured him into the woods and then threw alcohol on his back and set him on fire.

However, police say the accused teens maintain it was as the group used lighters to set sticks on fire in the woods that Judkins supplied the rubbing alcohol from a first aid kit he found. They say Judkins ignited himself as he stood with the open bottle of rubbing alcohol between his knees.

Investigators say Judkins was burned on his back, neck, chest, arms and legs.

" Another possibility is the boys could have left. They say they panicked. Two of them left, but at least one stayed and tried to help this boy and make sure he would get on the ground and roll so he wouldn't get burned any worse," said Lt. Richard Hoyda of Hammond Police Department.

Police say the teens all tell the same story. They are investigating the incident as a prank gone wrong and not a racially motivated incident. Judkins is African-American. All of the accused teens are white.

In the meantime, the Indiana third-grader remained hospitalized awaiting surgery to help heal the burns to approximately 20 percent of his body.

Judkins family members say they just want justice.

No charges had been filed Saturday evening against the teens allegedly involved in the incident. Police say that decision, most likely, will come after they get an official statement from the victim.


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