A 15-year-old girl has been charged with 19 counts of murder after she set her dormitory on fire because she was angry that her mobile phone had been confiscated. The unnamed teen, who’s being charged as an adult, is currently in custody pending a July 5 court hearing, where she will have to confront the results of her actions that killed 19 classmates and a 5-year-old boy, ABC News reports.
The incident, which took place at Mahdio secondary school in Georgetown, Guyana on May 21, all started because the defendant was angry that school officials had taken her phone. This action had been taken because the teen was allegedly using the device to contact older men in the area and they wanted to protect her. Instead, the girl decided the best course of action would be to burn her dormitory down, killing those inside.
Investigators in Guyana say they believe a fire that killed 19 mostly girls who were trapped inside a government school dormitory was deliberately set by a student who was upset that her mobile phone had been confiscated. https://t.co/AW5go4ynsJ
— The Associated Press (@AP) May 23, 2023
When the fire started just after midnight, it was clear that there would be many fatalities as all five doors were reportedly locked from the inside to keep the female students, aged 12 to 18, from sneaking out overnight. More than two dozen students were seriously injured and the death toll rose was initially reported to be 19. However, that number rose to 20 when a 14-year-old girl died in a Georgetown hospital on May 30.
The fire is believed to be the deadliest in recent memory in Guyana. The last one, in 2016, happened at a prison when inmates protested over conditions in the facility. Seventeen inmates perished.
The July 5 court hearing will determine whether or not a trial against the girl can proceed. If it does and she is convicted, she could spend the rest of her life in prison. She has not yet been allowed to enter a plea due to the nature of the charges and the fact that a trial determination has not yet been decided by the court.
The caskets of Loreen Evans, Rita Jeffrey, and Belnisa Evans left Mahdia for Karisparu Village by helicopter approximately one hour ago. The three girls were among the 20 victims of the Mahdia dorm fire.
(Credit: NCN) pic.twitter.com/yLL2ezLuTK
— NCN Guyana (@NCNGuyana) May 30, 2023