TAMPA — Deputies initially said it was a suicide pact — perhaps a desperate attempt to flee an abusive man.
Nancy Lowe and her 12-year-old daughter left several suicide notes behind before lighting a fire in their garage Saturday, Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies said.
Neighbors noticed smoke and pulled the two from their Citrus Park home. Authorities took the mother and the daughter to a hospital.
Later that day, investigators said they learned that Lowe had been beaten by her ex-husband, James Clark, 45, based on interviews with Lowe and her daughter. Deputies arrested Clark.
But the girl recanted her story, Clark's attorney, Anthony Rickman, said Wednesday.
People often give different stories to deputies, said Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Debbie Carter, and it will be up to prosecutors to determine whether the aggravated battery charge and a violation of domestic violence injunction will stand.
Rickman is hopeful they will be dismissed.
He has store receipts that show the girl was shopping with her father — nowhere near her mother's home — on the day of the alleged beating, he said.
He calls the Saturday incident an "attempted murder-suicide."
Lowe has not been charged in connection with Saturday's incident.
She was initially held under the Baker Act, a state law that allows for the temporary detainment of people who may be a danger to themselves or others.
Court records show the couple have a tumultuous history.
Lowe and Clark were married in 2000, and eight years later, Lowe filed a domestic violence injunction against her husband.
It wasn't upheld, but a different petition in 2010 was granted. Lowe got full custody of her daughter.
That changed a year ago, with a divorce judgement that allowed Clark to have time with his daughter.
An investigator who helped make that recommendation said Lowe and Clark each had a history of substance abuse and "past mental health hospitalizations."
Lowe had also fabricated a sexual assault report years ago, the investigator reported, according to the judgement, and the Florida Department of Children and Families was not able to find evidence that Clark had beaten his daughter, as the girl had reported in July 2010.
The investigator had concerns that Lowe was making "leading statements" that caused the girl to fear her father.
Clark does have a history of domestic violence issues. He has pleaded guilty to four felony counts for violating injunctions, according to court records.
He is out on bail for the battery charge.
Meanwhile, Lowe faces a civil contempt of court citation because she did not follow the time-sharing agreement when she picked up her daughter from school on Friday.
The girl was taken into DCF custody, the agency reported Monday.