APOLLO BEACH — It still doesn't seem real to Laura April.
Her best friend, Audrey Mabrey, breathing with a ventilator in critical condition at Tampa General Hospital, burns covering 80 percent of her body.
Mabrey's husband, Christopher P. Hanney, is in jail accused of dousing his wife with ignitor fluid and setting her aflame.
"I look at the mug shot and honestly, I feel sorry for him," April said about Hanney. "I don't think he's all there."
On Thursday, a Hillsborough Circuit judge ordered that Hanney, 44, be held without bail. He was arrested on Wednesday at Tampa General and charged with attempted first-degree murder. He remains at the Orient Road Jail.
On Tuesday, Hanney doused Mabrey, hit her over the head with a hammer and set her on fire at their home, located at 7567 Oxford Garden Circle, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. Mabrey fled to a neighbor, who extinguished the fire. Hanney and Mabrey were transported to Tampa General. The couple's home was also heavily damaged.
Mabrey, 26, remained in critical condition Thursday, Hillsborough County sheriff officials said.
April of Valrico became friends with Mabrey a few years ago while working at a Chili's restaurant in Brandon. The two shared stories of the East Coast. April, 27, had relocated to Florida from Massachusetts and Mabrey from Brooklyn, N.Y.
Mabrey grew up in Killeen, Texas, April said, and met Hanney when she was around 20 years old through an online dating Web site. Mabrey eventually relocated to be with Hanney, who was a New York City police officer at the time.
After Hanney retired, the couple moved to Apollo Beach. They have two small sons. April and her boyfriend hung out with the couple often.
"I don't want people to portray Chris as a monster," April said.
Hanney would often babysit April's children when the girls had a night out.
"My kids loved him," she said.
Tuesday's incident wasn't the first time the Sheriff's Office had responded to a domestic dispute at the home.
On Oct. 20, Mabrey called the authorities and said her husband had grabbed her and tried to rape her, according to a report filed with the county's State Attorney's Office. Mabrey did not pursue charges against Hanney at that time. The sheriff's office referred the case to the State Attorney's Office, but no charges were filed.
"The victim waived prosecution, there were inconsistent statements given, alcohol was a factor, there were no injuries or eye witnesses," said Pam Bondi, assistant state attorney. "It just wasn't a case that we could prosecute nor could the sheriff's office arrest him on the facts of the case."
Mabrey stayed with April for a week after that incident then moved into her own apartment, April said. The couple saw each other on a regular basis. Hanney would watch the couple's two sons while Mabrey worked.
"She was over it but he wasn't, and I think it was driving him crazy," April said.