NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — After being charged with child endangerment and setting her home on fire, a woman is fighting back by suing the Metro Nashville government and a former Nashville arson investigator.
Jennifer Parker claims she did not start the 2018 fire at her house near Percy Priest Lake, but rather her daughter, Kalissa Parker, started the fire in an effort to kill herself.
“Ms. Parker’s rights were violated by being indicted on false charges,” said Kyle Mothershead, Jennifer’s attorney.
In January 2018, firefighters rescued a woman and a young child from a house fire, but they also found an 18-year-old woman — later identified as Kalissa — dead in a back room.
At the time, investigators said the fire started on the first floor and they found signs of an accelerant on a stairway and an empty jug of party torch fuel in the garage.
Nearly three years later, Jennifer was indicted by a grand jury and spent six weeks in jail before being able to post bond, according to the lawsuit.
In the lawsuit, Jennifer’s attorney claimed the Nashville Fire Department arson investigator, “made numerous misleading and outright false statements to the grand jury,” in 2021 and “lacked probable cause to charge Ms. Parker.”
“Claiming that she had set fire to her own home, and in the process, that this fire had burned up her daughter, who, according to the allegations that were made against Ms. Parker, had somehow died already in her bedroom shortly before the fire was set,” Mothershead said about the allegations made to the grand jury.
In 2022, the case against Jennifer was dismissed without finding her guilty.
“It’s just incredibly traumatic, and then obviously spending months in jail for something that she didn’t do is horrifying and nobody, nobody should have to go through that,” Mothershead said.
The lawsuit also said Metro was “deliberately indifferent” to the risk of fire investigators initiating criminal charges.
When asked for a comment or interview, a spokesperson for the Nashville Fire Department said they do not comment on pending litigation.
According to Jennifer’s other attorney, Dawn Deaner, this case is important to hold the government accountable.
“It’s important for people to understand that that can happen to people,” Deaner said. “And that government should really bear a responsibility to ensure that it’s doing its job with the idea of protecting everybody, including potentially innocent people from criminal charges.”
You can read the full lawsuit by clicking here.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a prevention network of 161 crisis centers that provides a 24/7, toll-free hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. If you or someone you know needs support now, call or text 988 or chat at 988lifeline.org.