Las Vegas Sun

December 21, 2014

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Hearing set for homeless woman charged with attempted murder, hospital arson

Kathy Priest Ritner

Kathy Priest Ritner

A preliminary hearing on attempted murder and arson charges will be held later this month for a homeless woman who Metro Police say started a fire in a restroom in a Las Vegas hospital.

The hearing for Kathy Priest Ritner, 48, will be at 9 a.m. March 28 before Justice of the Peace Joe Sciscento in Las Vegas Justice Court.

Ritner, who appeared before Sciscento on Monday, is charged with one count of first degree arson and one count of attempted murder. She originally was arrested on suspicion of six counts of attempted murder and one count of arson.

She is being held in the Clark County Detention Center on $20,000 bail.

Ritner was taken by ambulance to the Valley Hospital emergency room on the morning of March 8 for a medical complaint. She was examined and released. Officials said she was seen playing with a cigarette lighter while in the waiting room.

She then went into the restroom of the emergency room, allegedly set fire to a plastic waste container and then left, officials said. The melting plastic created a thick black smoke that was seen coming from the restroom.

When security personnel and medical staff entered the restroom to extinguish the fire, black smoke spread into the rest of the emergency room, officials said.

Fire officials said patients being treated in the emergency room for other medical emergencies were examined for smoke inhalation after the fire and the incident caused the emergency room to close for several hours.

Later that day, Investigators determined Ritner had left the hospital and but had gone to the emergency department at University Medical Center, where she was taken into custody by fire investigators.

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