Ooltewah Couple Gets 15-Year Terms For Plot To Kill Man's Mom In Fire

Monday, June 11, 2018

An Ooltewah man and his girlfriend have been given 15-year- prison sentences after being charged with trying to kill his mother by setting a fire in the home where all three were living.

Johnny James Shouse and Gladys George pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree murder and aggravated arson.

The prison time will be at 100 percent except they could give 15 percent off for good behavior.

Prosecutor Andrew Coyle said the mother thought the punishment for her son was too severe.

Firefighters were dispatched on Jan. 7, 2015, to a blaze at 8528 Ooltewah-Georgetown Road.

Paula Kay Shouse told the sheriff's office that earlier she received a call from her son's phone. The call was from Ms. George. Ms. George asked her if she was going to bed, and she said she was.

Ms. George said she and her boyfriend had just gone to bed and "she wanted to wish her good night."

Ms. Shouse said she thought this was strange since they were all living in the same house, yet she called her. She said she had not received such a call before, and there was a feeling of animosity between Ms. Shouse and Ms. George.

Ms. Shouse said she fell asleep shortly after the phone call. She said the next thing she remembered was hearing a crash in front of her bedroom door and the dogs barking.

She then discovered flames shooting up from under her bedroom door. She tried to get out the door, but found it was blocked. She said she was able to get out through a back door to the porch.

Ms. Shouse said she went to the front of the house, where the couple's bedroom is located, and knocked on the window to try to wake them up. There was no response to the knock.

She said she noticed that her vehicle, a 2010 Hyundai Sante Fe, was not in the driveway.

She went to the next-door neighbor's house to have her neighbor call 911. On the way to the neighbors, she saw that her small black dog, who she had rescued from the burning residence, had a smell that seemed like kerosene. A sample was taken from the dog.

Ms. Shouse said her son and girlfriend had been drinking earlier in the day.

Authorities said the bulk of the fire was at the rear of the house near Ms. Shouse's bedroom.

An investigator said when he returned to talk to Ms. Shouse she received a phone call. He said he heard her yelling, "You tried to kill me." He said she hung up after a brief conversation.

The caller was Ms. George, who denied knowledge of what Ms. Shouse was talking about and said they were at the Puss N Boots club in Chattanooga. She also denied having Ms. Shouse's vehicle.

Investigators found in the living room a partially melted blue container that looked like the remains of a kerosene can. The liquid in the container smelled of kerosene, it was stated. A gasoline can and a bottle of charcoal lighter were found on the front porch.

A canine trained to detect accelerants hit on the front porch and the living room.

The fire was determined to be arson.

Authorities of the Department of Corrections said Shouse was being monitored by an ankle bracelet, but he cut it off around the time of the fire. A tracking system found that it had been cut in the vicinity of the Waffle House in Cleveland, Tn.

Ms. Shouse told investigators that she had been receiving disturbing text messages on her phone coming from her son. One text said they "were in Miami enjoying the sunshine." 

He said the car was abandoned in Georgia with the keys locked inside.

Ms. Shouse said she asked "why they did it" the reply was "Cuz I can."

Another text said, "Part of our plan was to go off grid you would have been in the way."


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