Martha Dreher is a woman in Austin, Texas who has been arrested and faces a felony charge of arson for allegedly setting fire to the home of the family whose children she served as babysitter. It is further alleged she started the fire in retaliation for the children’s “disrespectful” behavior.

Martha Dreher

Photo: Martha Dreher

The 57-year-old Martha Carolyn Dreher (mugshot photo above; more images below) is accused of having started a fire in the West Austin, Texas home of a family who had employed her as a baby sitter.

According to The Austin Statesman quoting from court documents she allegedly started the fire while the family was away on vacation.

At the time that the fire was set, she was babysitting for the family’s five-year-old twin boys at a different house rather than as had been per usual babysitting for the family’s daughters. They were on vacation with their father, according to the documents quoted.

When interviewed by police investigators, Dreher said she had gone with the twin boys to the house where the girls lived to get popcorn among other items. According to surveillance video from the security system in the house, the fire is seen having started approximately 25 minutes after she arrived at the house. The video also shows her leaving the house as the fire escalated.

The son of the homeowner who had been staying at the house at the time was out to dinner with his mother. Upon returning to the house at approximately 12:30 a.m. he found a smoldering fire on the bed the bedroom of one of his sisters.

According to investigators the cause of the fire is arson because both of the bedrooms of the girls had been damaged and the rooms are not connected. Additionally there were broken eggs in one of the rooms; on the bed as well as on the floor.

Martha Dreher told the investigators that she had informed the homeowner that she was no longer going to babysit his daughters when he returned from vacation. In the interview, she said that the daughters were “out of control, lacking respect for her and having disciplines issues.”

Additionally, The Austin Statesman reports that the affidavit shows that Dreher said in the interview that she “‘never saw a fire,’ but that she ‘saw a light’ in one of the girl’s rooms.”

Martha Dreher was arrested and booked into Travis County Jail. She was charged with arson, a first-degree felony with a maximum prison sentence of 99 years. Her bail was set at $50,000.

According to KVUE-TV, she pleaded not guilty to the charges. The station also quotes the homeowner, Glenn Williams, as saying, “”Someone set my daughter’s bedrooms on fire. They could have set the whole house on fire, and they actually closed the doors so the fire was maintained in those rooms and burned itself out. So it was definitely a vendetta against the two girls.”

The story is developing. Check back for updates

Photos: Martha Dreher
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