Dad JOHN OSBORN is accused of causing a meth lab explosion that severely burned his 1-year-old daughter. Dad keeps insisting it was a grease fire from making french fries, but it appears he ran away when the ambulance arrived. Never mind all that, he's got an explanation for the running part, too.
Father of young meth explosion victim: She was my life
September 14, 2009 6:54 AM
S. Brady Calhoun
Florida Freedom Newspapers
BAY COUNTY -- The images are cruel, all by themselves.
One is a scorched playpen; another, a baby girl badly burned, wrapped in bandages and fighting for her life in a hospital bed. John Osborn, the man accused of burning his 1-year-old daughter in a meth lab explosion, said last week that he is not responsible for his daughter’s terrible wounds.
In an interview Thursday at the Bay County Jail, where he is being held without bond, Osborn said his “angel” Johna was burned in a grease fire that he inadvertently started, not a meth lab explosion. Johna is being treated for her burns in a Georgia hospital.
Osborn said he was preparing to cook some french fries Aug. 23 and was heating up grease. Osborn added that while washing his hands, he noticed the grease did not look hot, so he flicked the water on his hands into the grease. Those actions set off a fire that burned Osborn on both arms and his stomach. He said he grabbed at the pan and tried to get the burning grease out the back door of the trailer. But the back door was nailed shut and Osborn had to go to the front door, past where Johna lay in her playpen. On his way out he tripped and the flames engulfed his daughter’s playpen, he said.
“I flipped my young’un out of the playpen,” Osborn said.
As he talked, Osborn’s face turned red and his eyes welled up with tears. He scratched at the side of his face and rubbed his mostly bald head with his hands.
Bay County sheriff’s officials said Osborn and his girlfriend, Tessa Wagy, lied about the grease fire that initially caused their baby to be treated for the wrong types of burns. Osborn said there was no meth in his system when he was arrested a few days after the incident and that hospital officials told him his burns were inconsistent with a meth explosion.
Osborn is charged with aggravated child abuse, possession of listed chemicals and manufacture of methamphetamine with a child under the age of 16 suffering great bodily harm.
Investigators added that Osborn ran away when an ambulance came to pick up his baby and was arrested two days later after he asked to borrow a cell phone to get help for his burns. Osborn said he had a warrant for his arrest in Georgia and when the ambulance arrived he “stepped around the corner” but did not leave his baby.
He said when he realized he was wanted for burning his baby, he turned himself in because he knew he was innocent.
Osborn also had several defenses for the evidence that could exist against him. Both he and his girlfriend had severe allergic reactions to the Florida climate, Osborn said. It was so strong they had problems with their eyes and they were constantly sneezing. That’s why investigators might have found Benadryl in their trailer, he said.
Also, they had not been in the trailer very long, so if investigators found any incriminating evidence it is possible that the evidence was there, under floorboards or in other hidden parts of the home without their knowledge, Osborn said.
Wagy is charged with manufacture of meth where a child is harmed, possession of listed chemicals and aggravated child abuse. If she testifies against Osborn, it will only be because she is “not in her right state of mind,” Osborn said.
“She’s probably a basket case,” Osborn said. “She’ll say anything. Whatever they want to (expletive) hear.”
Bay County sheriff’s officials said local meth production had been on the decline until earlier this year when meth addicts learned how to create “shake and bake” meth labs. In a “shake and bake” lab, the producer can place all of the ingredients needed to make the drug in a small plastic container and then start the process by shaking the container. Sometimes the container expands, burns the ingredients and creates meth crystals. But it is just as likely that the container will explode or fire will shoot out through a newly created hole, like a flamethrower, officials say.
Osborn said the only kind of “shake and bake” he is aware of is the chicken.
“Mama cooked it when I was a young’un,” he said. However, he did admit to using meth in the late 1980s.
“It’s just not my thing,” Osborn said. “I like to eat.”
At a press conference in August, Sheriff Frank McKeithen was visibly upset by the incident. He called Osborn a “scumbag” and a “piece of crap.” Read the story: 'The path this scumbag took' » McKeithen also placed large flashing signs on local roadways that warned meth users they were being watched and that “Meth head plus Sudafed equals burnt babies.” Read McKeithen's war against meth »
“We’ve had our say. He’s had his say, but unfortunately baby Johna can’t have her say because she’s still in critical condition at a burn hospital,” McKeithen said this week in reaction to Osborn’s claim of innocence. “So with all that said, I guess I look forward to seeing him in court.”
Osborn said he hopes to get out of jail and get his family back. Before the fire, Johna was starting to walk and talk, he said.
“She was starting to run,” Osborn said. “She was my life. She still is. She’s starting to say, ‘Daddy’ and all kinds of (expletive).”