Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Public safety

Tampa fire investigation finds suicide pact

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TAMPA — A woman and her daughter remain hospitalized with minor smoke inhalation after setting a fire in their garage as part of an attempted suicide pact, authorities said.

Nancy Lowe, 52, and her 12-year-old daughter, Allison Clark, left several suicide notes behind before lighting a fire in their garage Saturday, Hillsborough County Sheriff Deputies said.

Lowe laid blankets over two cars in the garage at 6603 Timber Brook Court in Citrus Park on Saturday and covered them in gasoline that deputies say her daughter borrowed from a neighbor earlier in the day.

Neighbors playing basketball at the home across the street saw the smoke and rushed over when they heard screams. As they approached the house, the garage door closed, authorities said, trapping Lowe and her daughter inside.

Another neighbor was able to get in and found the two in the laundry room between the garage and the rest of the house.

A black poodle named Shelby was also saved from the home, neighbors said.

The pair were taken to Tampa General Hospital, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, which responded to the fire at about 3 p.m. Saturday.

At the hospital, investigators learned that Lowe had been battered by her ex-husband, James Clark, 45.

Clark violated a domestic injunction and broke into Lowe's home Thursday night through a side window, according to a police report. He threatened Lowe, telling her "I'm going to bury you and kill you," before punching her and beating her with a metal floor lamp.

Neighbors gathered outside the house Sunday, swapping information as kids tossed a football around in the street. They said cars had driven up and down the dead-end road all day, slowing to look at the damage.

The garage door remained open, exposing two charred vehicles and heavy smoke and fire damage. Scorch marks shot up the top of the house, which was roped off by police caution tape. Pieces of debris, including boxes, insulation and a step stool, littered the yard and driveway.

Neighbors, who did not want to be identified, said Lowe has lived there for about 10 years. Multiple neighbors said they were aware of ongoing violence.

Clark has a record in Florida that includes charges of domestic battery and cyberstalking. He was arrested Saturday and charged with aggravated battery and domestic violence.

Both the mother and daughter are being held under the Baker Act, deputies said.

The Hillsborough County Fire Marshal is investigating.

Caitlin Johnston can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 661-2443

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