Assisted living facility employee accused of setting fire at nursing home

Leonhardt, Kristina
Staff Writer

On 16 September 2018, at 7:13 pm, at the request of Newton Fire Department, Newton police officers responded to Carillon Assisted Living located at 1088 Radio Station Road, Newton reference a suspicious fire. Upon arrival, officers were advised by fire department personnel that two fires had been located inside the facility and both appeared suspicious. Officers were escorted to the rooms in question by Newton Fire personnel. In one room, a chair covered with fabric was burned, but the fire did not spread to any other parts of the room. In a second room, located around a corner and down a short hallway from the first room, a fire was contained to a twin size bed and mattress. Neither room was occupied at the time of the fires. Both fires were extinguished using fire extinguishers by Carillon personnel.
As Newton police officers began their investigation they discovered an employee; Kristina Leigh Leonhardt had entered the room and exited prior to the discovery of the fire. Ms. Leonhardt then proceeded to walk outside with another employee to smoke a cigarette. While both were outside smoking, the fire alarm activated which caused both employees to run back inside the facility. They checked the fire alarm panel which indicated the location of the alarm. When both employees arrived at the first room they noticed the chair on fire. An employee (not Ms. Leonhardt) retrieved a fire extinguisher and was able to extinguish the fire. As fire personnel were investigating the original fire, smoke was discovered coming from the second room. Fire personnel extinguished the fire which was contained to the bed area only.
During an interview, Kristina Leigh Leonhardt, 29, of Hickory confessed to entering the first room to smoke a cigarette. Kristina also admitted to entering the second room and intentionally starting the fire on the bed. No reason for the second fire was given by the suspect. Ms. Leonhardt was charged with 1st Degree Arson, Injury to Real Property and Injury to Personal Property. She was placed under a $15,000 non-secured bond with a first court appearance scheduled for 09-17-2018.