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Betty McFadden: Florida woman who set a Circle K employee on fire will NOT stand trial

After being told not to panhadle outside the Circle K gas station, Mcfadden reportedly doused a clerk in gasoline and set her aflame
UPDATED SEP 20, 2022
Betty McFadden, 30, was deemed mentally unable to stand trial (Escambia County Sheriff's Office)
Betty McFadden, 30, was deemed mentally unable to stand trial (Escambia County Sheriff's Office)

Warning: This content contains a recollection of crime and can be triggering to some, readers' discretion is advised.

ESCAMBIA COUNTY, FLORIDA: Betty McFadden, 30, who is accused of setting a Circle K employee on fire, will not stand trial due to mental instability. The incident which took place in March involved two women getting burned. One of them is still facing life-threatening injuries.

After a psychological evaluation, McFadden was deemed mentally unable to stand trial. She was charged with attempted murder in the case. However, the verdict of the psychological evaluation could alter the charges.


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McFadden reportedly went up to the Circle K gas station at Massachusetts Avenue and North W Street near Brent Athletic Park. She filled a canister with gas, went inside the store, and poured it over Joie Hellmich, a woman clerk in the store. Though Hellmich ran around the store, McFadden chased her with matches and then set her on fire.

Betty McFadden, 30, was deemed mentally unable to stand trial (Escambia County Sheriff's Office)
Betty McFadden was earlier charged with attempted murder (Escambia County Sheriff's Office)

Another woman clerk stepped forward to help Hellmich. However, she got burned as well. Both were taken to a hospital for medical assistance. McFadden met the necessary requirements for hospitalization at that time and is being committed to a facility at Florida State Hospital in Chattahoochee. She was reportedly told earlier to not panhandle outside of the gas station earlier that day. 

The Florida Department of Children and Families will oversee this decision if McFadden’s case is brought up under any circumstances. If declared mentally fit, the case could be re-opened and can change the status of the case. In a previous story in the New York Post, McFadden was listed as homeless in jail records and was held without bond on an attempted murder charge.

Sheriff Chip Simmons, Escambia county police chief, said in a statement, “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victim and her family, this is a senseless and practically indescribable act of cruelty.”

In another incident in Texas, a Houston man, evicted from an apartment due to non-payment of rent for three months, shot five of his neighbors - killing three of them - after setting their homes on fire to lure them out of the apartment complex they shared early Sunday, August 28.

The officers fatally shot the man after he opened fire on responding officers. The incident occurred around 1 am in a mixed industrial-residential area of southwest Houston. According to police Chief Troy Finner, police and fire crews responded to the apartment house after reports of a fire. Two died at the scene, and one died later at a hospital. Firefighters rescued two more injured men, who were taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.