Apollo Beach man charged with attempted murder, accused of setting wife on fire

APOLLO BEACH — Deputies moved Christopher Peter Hanney from a hospital bed to a jail cell Wednesday night.

The 44-year-old is accused of dousing his estranged wife with lighter fluid, clubbing her in the head with a hammer, then lighting her on fire Tuesday afternoon, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

Detectives charged the former New York police officer with attempted murder in the first degree, arrest records show.

His wife, Audrey Mabrey, 26, ran from her home to a neighbor's, her clothes and skin ablaze, and told the neighbor that Chris had done this to her, said Debbie Carter, a spokeswoman for the sheriff's office.

The mother of two young boys clung to life at Tampa General Hospital late Wednesday with burns over 80 percent of her body.

The fire that consumed the couple's house at 7565 Oxford Garden Circle in Apollo Beach also burned Hanney, but he was released from the hospital just before he was arrested Wednesday, Carter said.

When deputies arrived to the house fire after 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Mabrey told them her husband had doused her with lighter fluid and set her on fire, said Larry McKinnon, a sheriff's spokesman. Deputies said the incident stemmed from an argument, but she didn't say what the couple were arguing about, McKinnon said.

Hillsborough County records show that Hanney married Audrey Marie Mabrey in June 2008. Gary Hanney, Chris Hanney's brother, said the couple had two children together, a 10-month-old and a 2-year-old.

It was Hanney's second marriage. He has two teenage children by his first wife, his brother said.

This wasn't the first fight that drew the attention of law enforcement to their Apollo Beach home.

A sheriff's arrest affidavit states that on Oct. 20, Chris Hanney grabbed his wife by the waist with both hands and pushed her. She was not injured, the report says.

Deputies filed a domestic violence battery charge against Hanney with the State Attorney's Office, but prosecutors declined to take the case to court because there were no witnesses and Mabrey gave inconsistent statements, said Assistant State Attorney Pam Bondi.

Aris Bullard, 46, of Topeka, Kan., said she and her son had warned Mabrey to get out of the house.

Bullard is the mother of Mabrey's childhood boyfriend. She said the troubled young woman called her about a month ago, and told her Hanney was abusive and violent.

Mabrey contacted her son, about the same time, after not seeing each other for 11 years. Her son ended up talking to Hanney, who accused him of being Mabrey's boyfriend, something he denied.

"That just wasn't true. They hadn't seen each other for years,'' Bullard said.

Bullard said Hanney and Mabrey had separated — they weren't even sleeping in the same bed — but they remained in the house together.

A MySpace page in Mabrey's name created on Oct. 12 lists her as single.

"She was very afraid of the guy," Bullard said. "But she didn't have the money to get a divorce. She was working trying to save up for that."

Management confirmed that Mabrey was working as a server at Chili's Bar and Grill at 1949 W Brandon Blvd.

A co-worker reached via Facebook said Mabrey was always dependable, helpful and kind. He also praised her "soothingly beautiful" singing voice and said she is a very strong person.

A neighbor said she didn't see any signs that Hanney and Mabrey were having problems — until Mabrey showed up in front of her home on fire.

Veronica Monsivais, 31, lives next door to the Hanneys and said she was one of the first to call 911. Monsivais said she and other neighbors saw Hanney's wife on fire and running from the garage.

The Hanneys had been good neighbors, she said, and seemed to get along most of the time.

"They had some issues — like every other couple," Monsivais said. "Recently, nothing."

She remembers seeing Chris Hanney on Monday waving from the driveway. "Everything seemed normal," Monsivais said. "He was a very friendly man."

Gary Hanney says he knew his brother Chris was having marital problems, but they didn't seem serious enough to cause alarm.

They talked by phone Sunday and discussed Thanksgiving plans. Nothing seemed amiss.

So Hanney, who lives in Georgia, said he was stunned to learn about the accusations against his brother.

"Everybody's in shock," Gary Hanney said. He was getting ready to drive to Florida to meet with other family members.

"Sunday I talked to him, and he seemed like he was fine," Gary Hanney said. "If only we could turn back time and see if there's something in the conversation that could have alerted us."

He said that a few months ago, Chris Hanney did tell family members that his wife wanted a divorce and was moving out.

His brother is a retired New York City police officer who works as an airport security guard, Hanney said.

"Hopefully I can go down there and at least get the opportunity to see him for a little bit," he said. "I don't care about the reasons why for what he's done. I just want to make sure of his well-being."

Kelly Figley, a Tampa International Airport spokeswoman, said Chris Hanney, who works for the Transportation Security Administration, and worked temporarily at the airport until early October. He regularly works at the Sarasota-Bradenton Airport, Figley said.

Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman Sari Koshetz said Hanney has worked as a transportation security officer since July 2007.

Hanney's sister, Noreen Hanney of New York, waited expectantly for a call from Gary Hanney Wednesday evening, still confused about what people were saying her brother did.

"You guys have a horrific snapshot of his life," she said. "That's definitely not who my brother is."

Hanney is being held without bail at a Hillsborough County jail.

Robbyn Mitchell can be reached at rmitchell@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3373.

FAST FACTS

Domestic violence

In the first six months of 2009, domestic violence homicides increased nearly 9 percent, domestic violence manslaughters increased 100 percent, and stalking increased 38 percent over January through June 2008, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Apollo Beach man charged with attempted murder, accused of setting wife on fire 11/18/09 [Last modified: Thursday, November 19, 2009 10:02am]

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