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Where is Debora Green now? Chilling story of woman who set house on fire, killed 2 children and poisoned husband

A physician, Green pleaded no contest to setting the 1995 fire and the sensational news was heavily covered in media
UPDATED MAR 14, 2021
Michael Farrar and Debora Green (Police handout)
Michael Farrar and Debora Green (Police handout)

It was a cold day on October 24, 1995. Massive flames of fire rose from a house in the Kansas–Missouri area and the tragedy still haunts many minds. Lifetime's ‘A House on Fire’ chronicles the story of Debora Green — a woman who was accused of burning down her home, killing two children and poisoning her husband.  

A physician, Green pleaded no contest to setting the 1995 fire and the sensational news was heavily covered in media. Dubbed abusive and violent, she was used to getting her way around anything she desired. Upon her arrest on November 22, 1995, Green was charged with two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted first-degree murder, and one count of aggravated arson. Held on $3,000,000 bail — the highest ever required by Johnson County, Kansas — Green maintained her innocence throughout pre-trial hearings.


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What really happened back then and why did Debora Green set her own house on fire? Here's a flashback and the chilling true story.

Debora Green (Missouri Police)

Who is Debora Green?

Born as Debora Jones on February 28, 1951, in Havana, Illinois, Debora Green grew up in a loving family with parents Joan and Bob Jones and her elder sister. An intelligent woman, Debora taught herself to read and write before she was three. A National Merit Scholar in high school, she was thought of as “someone who was going to be successful.”

She attended the University of Illinois from the fall of 1969, got a major in chemistry and opted to attend medical school after graduation in 1972. In college, Debora dated Duane M J Green, an engineer and got married to him in 1974 while she was studying at the University of Kansas. They lived together for four years before their split. Later, Debora said the reason for their divorce was basic incompatibility — she was quoted as saying, “[...W]e had absolutely no common interests.”

She then met Michael Farrar, a student in his twenties, who was attracted to her intelligence. Married on May 26, 1979, the couple moved to Ohio. Green started practice at Jewish Hospital as an emergency physician but switched specialties when she was dissatisfied with her job. The couple had three children together — Timothy, born on January 20, 1982; Kate, born two years later and Kelly, born on December 13, 1988.

Timothy, Kelly and Kate Farrar (

Did she plot to kill her kids?

Green was known to have flights of rage and many times, harmed herself or broke things. The arguments grew between the couple and she began to sway her children's minds about their father. She once told a nanny, “I didn't want kids; I never had. I am doing it for Mike...” In January 1994, Farrar asked Green for a divorce. Furious, she thought he was having an affair and started throwing things around. Farrar had actually met Magaret Hacker during a trip to Peru in June 1995, who was also unhappy in her marriage.  

During this time, Green's drinking consistently grew and she was even found unresponsive on one occasion. By the time, Farrar got home, she was nowhere to be found but was later discovered hiding in the basement. She also confessed that she had been wandering the town, hoping to be hit by a car. 

On October 24, the house was set on fire and the reason — many believed was that Green did it to avenge the fights with her husband. The first firefighters reported that Green and her 10-year-old daughter Kate were safely outside. Although Kate begged firefighters to help her brother and sister, six-year-old Kelly and 13-year-old Timothy, Green was noted to have been “very calm, very cool”. Said to not have shed a tear, her behavior was somewhat “cheerful”. Shockingly, she even referred to Kelly and Tim in the past tense.

Kelly was found dead in her bed, probably of smoke inhalation and Tim's body was found on the ground floor, near the kitchen. During the trial, she said, “... I was not myself when Tim and Kelly died. Defending myself on these charges would only compound the suffering of my family and my daughter, Kate. I love my family very much. I never meant to harm my children but I accept the fact that I will be punished harshly. I believe that it is best to end this now so that we can begin to heal from our horrible loss.”

Tim and Kelly Farrar (Missouri Police)

Why did she poison her husband?

In the months before the fire, Michael Farrar was found to have been poisoned. Detectives found castor beans — a product of the Earl May chain of stores — after the September domestic dispute. When they reached the store, a clerk recalled having spoken to a woman who requested ten packets of the out-of-season seeds. Green claimed they were for a science project for her son but evidence showed no such project existed.

In 1995, Farrar underwent surgery to treat an aneurism that his doctors believed had been caused by the poisoning. Before the surgery, he submitted blood samples to Johnson County's crime lab to be tested for ricin antibodies.

Reports say he underwent a total of 11 heart and brain surgeries after the poisoning. Apparently, an Agatha Christie book planted the idea in her head and it is not clear whether she did it for insurance or just plain revenge. Nonetheless, she failed to kill him. Diane Chamberlain's ‘Necessary Lies’ was one of the books she read with a plot that burned several children to death from an unintentional fire.

Debora Green and Michael Farrar (Forensic Files)

Where is Debora Green now?

Shortly after dropping off her daughter on November 22, Debora Green was arrested in Kansas City, Missouri, and was formally sentenced on May 30, 1996. In a statement, she said, “The death of a child, any child, under any circumstances, is a terrible human tragedy. The death of these children under these circumstances is a tragedy almost too great to bear. It is nevertheless a tragedy that I must bear for the rest of my life, and one for which I also must bear responsibility. Nothing that I can do or that can be done to me can bring my children back...”

Years after her imprisonment Debra began to correspond with a writer named Ann Rule who penned down a book named ‘Bitter Harvest: A Woman's Fury, a Mother's Sacrifice’ on her life. On May 15, 2008, Green filed a petition challenging her convictions and sentences but her arguments for relief were denied.

Although the death penalty was dropped, she was sentenced to two concurrent 40-year prison terms without the possibility of parole and her eligibility for parole will only be on November 21, 2035.