Lakeland boy 16, accused of trying to murder family

A Lakeland teen accused of trying to kill his family by setting their home on fire, blames hormones and stress for his actions, investigators say.

Baxton Skylor Dowdy, 16, is charged with three counts of attempted murder in connection with the alleged murder plot against his father, mother and sister.

Investigators say Dowdy admitted to pouring gas at the exit points of his parents’ bedroom and in the living room of the family home. He then allegedly went to burn the home down by igniting the blaze with a white sock that he set on fire.

However, his mother woke up from the smell of the burning white sock and Dowdy snuffed the fire out and ran to his bedroom without his mother noticing him, according to an arrest affidavit.

At 2:07 a.m., the teen’s mother, Melissa Dowdy, called 911 to report a burglary, saying the burglary suspect also poured gas in the home.

Melissa Dowdy told deputies she thought the suspect was a friend of her son, who was outside the home when her husband Robert went outside to investigate what happened.

Detectives then contacted the suspect who told them that Baxton Dowdy had called him and asked him to come to his house. The suspect rode his bike to the Dowdy home where Baxton Dowdy handed him a small, black drawstring backpack through his bedroom window.

Baxton Dowdy then gave his friend his cell phone and an empty gas can. Baxton Dowdy also asked his friend to take his bicycle to the driveway for him and said he would meet his friend out front, according to the affidavit.

As his friend waited outside the home, he saw the light turn on in the kitchen and and knew that Baxter Dowdy’s parents had been awakened. A short time later, the friend was confronted by Baxter Dowdy’s father.

Investigators say Baxter Dowdy told them that he never intended to light the gasoline on fire. But, he then changed his statement and said he did intend to ignite the gas, but would be there to put out the fire and appear to be a hero to his parents.

“Deputies of course rush to the scene. And what we discover is that someone has poured gasoline all in front of mom and dad’s bedroom and they’ve gone outside and poured gasoline near the windows. So the parents are surrounded by gasoline,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.

Investigators asked Baxter Dowdy about the black drawstring bag he handed to his friend and what the significance was of the items inside the bag. The teen allegedly told detectives that the items were for him to remember his mother and sister by. A stuffed wolf toy that was in the bag was given to him by his sister and his mother gave him a small striped tiger that had a “Happy Valentine’s Day” heart in its mouth.

Baxton then allegedly broke down and told detectives he never had any intentions on putting out the fire, he was going to let his family burn in the home and he’d been planning it for the last month.

“The suspect did this because he was angry, overly stressed from a new school, parents counseling him about his grades, attempting to gain new friends and hormones from puberty. These factors compounded inside and he felt killing his family would alleviate the stress,” said the arrest affidavit.

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