Mother defends son accused of arson, assault
COLLEGEDALE, HAMILTON COUNTY (WRCB) -- Sheila Steigerwald says the last 24 hours have been a lot to bear.
Through her tears she tries to explain what went wrong at her home Sunday night at the Grindstone Trailer Park.
Police say her 16-year-old autistic son set fire to the family's mobile home and threw a rock through the window.
"He is scared, he is really scared," Steigerwald says. "Do you blame him?"
"I don't, because I knew he was under the pressure," she says..
Channel 3 was there as Collegedale police shutdown the neighborhood, believing someone firebombed the home.
Sheila says she thought she would die.
"I did for a minute," she says. "I just prayed that he would stop and he did."
"It could have been much worse," adds Sheila.
She says her son was stressed about some legal trouble. He was previously charged with stealing power tools from a neighbor and was due in court, Monday.
Steigerwald partly blames school bullying for his crimes.
"He has been so bullied at school," she says. "They just say 'make him go away, we don't want him'."
In a fit of rage, the 16-year-old punched her in the eye and ran out the house, after setting fire to the carpet.
Collegedale Police Chief Brian Hickman says they found the boy hiding at a friend's home nearby.
Sheila says she doesn't have family in Tennessee, and regardless of her son's troubles she won't leave his side.
"I can't, I can't give up on my child," Sheila says. "No matter how bad he treats me, I just can't."
The 16-year-old is not allowed back in the trailer park and faces a list of charges, including assault and arson.
He appeared before a juvenile court judge Monday morning.
Police say more charges are pending.