Police: Mom praised for saving son from explosion admits she started fire

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The burned bedroom and window where Puyallup mom said she and her toddler escaped a fire. (Photo: KCPQ-TV)

TACOMA — A Puyallup mother who firefighters initially called “Superwoman” and praised for the way she saved her young son from a home explosion was arrested Thursday for suspected arson in the case, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department said.

The woman, Melinda Kay Sayers, admitted Thursday that she started the April 1 fire in her home, sheriff’s detective Ed Troyer said.

She was taken into custody and was being held in the Pierce County Corrections Center. Her first court appearance was set for Friday.

The day after the story was reported of her and her son’s escape from the home explosion, her hospitalized baby girl, Abigail, who was born three months premature with severe brain damage, died at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

That tragedy, along with the loss of the couple’s home in the explosion, led to public fundraising efforts for the family.

At the time of the explosion, Sayers said she and her 2-year-old son were at home when “thick, black smoke” suddenly came billowing in a bedroom and trapped her and her son in the bedroom. She said she opened the bedroom window, kicked out the screen, threw her son out the window and then jumped out after him. “About two to three seconds later, there was a huge explosion,” Sayers said.

The problem was suspected to be a leaking oxygen tank; the oxygen tanks were in the house for Abigail, who, she hoped, would be coming home from the hospital soon.

“The fire was reported on April 1st,” Troyer said. “Detectives immediately noticed that the fire was not consistent with the evidence at the scene to be an accident. Through investigation, including an  interview of the suspect today, enough evidence was obtained to make the arrest.

“Suspect Sayers states she started the fire because she had too much going on and wanted her daughter to stay at the hospital,” Troyer said.











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  • Slam1263


    This is the woman, and her family that called me out, on this very same website, for simply stating she was partially at fault for letting her son play with the O2 tanks.

    Never would I have imagined, that she was a admitted arsonist. What's the story now folks?

    Remember, someone, somewhere, must like me just a bit more than I think, so be careful.

    • SadStory

      There is more to come out on this story. If you check the Washington State Healthcare Provider website you will find she has had her license suspended and additional investigations are underway. It is a very sad story.

      • Slam1263

        Wow, that is so sad.

        I left it alone, even though these people called, left threats, and tried to spam me with all of their hate.

        To bad, I am contacting Pierce County in the AM, and seeing if I can tack on a complaint.

        I'll make sure to add as many of her family and friends as I can.

  • Slam1263

    What about the charity she and her family swindled from the kind people?

    Will you have the decency to return it?

    No need to apologize to me, just to the people you ripped off.

    • Wanda ODell

      Dear Slam, I am the creator of the indiegogo campaign and it grieves me beyond words at the events that have unfolded. I heard that the Tacoma police are trying to take the campaign down. If it were in my ability to do so, I would take it down, too. I have contacted indiegogo to do just that.

      Chris's side of the family are honest, hard working people and we swindled no one. Mindie seems to have done that all by herself and we are victims, too. I am looking into how to go about refunding money if people want it back.

      I would like to say that Chris and Eli have lost everything thanks to Mindie's actions. I can't wrap my head around someone who would do something like this! Chris is still in need and I fully support HIM.

      Please have some compassion for the innocent victims in this story.

  • Slam1263

    I do now see a note from Ms. Odell on the Indiegogo site, asking to return the money.

    OK, some of them are trying to make things right.

    To bad the Dad, and kid are caught up in this. They have my sympathy, I hope they can get past this.

  • Guest

    This is a really sad story. The father and son are truly victims here. They lost everything. I can understand that she was feeling overwhelmed, but wow, you have to be seriously mentally unstable to think burning down your house is the solution. I hope she gets the help she needs!