Inmate's early release raises questions

October 18, 2011 5:05:23 AM PDT
A Lake Jackson family says they feel their old wounds are being opened again as the woman who started a fire that killed several loved ones is released from prison, years before she was to be eligible for parole.

Four people died more than a decade ago in a terrible fire. The woman convicted was sentenced to 60 years in prison, but she was released after serving only 10. There are plenty of questions why.

Eleven years ago this month, four people were killed in a fire at a Lake Jackson apartment complex -- two twin brothers, a young wife and mother who pleaded for someone to save her son trapped in the apartment with them.

"I don't care about me, I just want my baby out here," she begged during a 911 call.

A year later Sadie Proffitt, a downstairs neighbor, was convicted of setting the fire to make it appear that her husband had died from the flames, rather than from a natural death, so she could collect his insurance money. She was found guilty of two of the deaths and sentenced to 60 years in prison.

This summer, the parents, whose twin sons Daniel and Omar were killed in the fire, were told Proffitt had been paroled and sent to a nursing facility in north Texas because she is said to be terminally ill.

Riad Attar, the victims' father said, "With this news, it's like reliving the whole thing."

"It's like it just happened and this time there's nothing we can do," said the victims' mother, Maria Attar.

It has reopened the pain of losing two sons, a daughter-in-law -- Felicia Attar -- and a one-year-old grandson -- Omar, Jr. Worse, they question whether 66-year-old Sadie Proffitt really does have less than a year to live.

"I would love to know the name of that physician," Riad said.

That same suspicion is echoed by Jeri Yenne, the Brazoria County District Attorney, whose investigators recently visited Proffitt at the nursing facility.

"She communicated that she does not have anything life threatening," Yenne said. "She voluntarily made that statement."

For the DA, that raises her suspicion that Proffitt's parole may be the consequence of state budget cuts.

"This is simply an economic issue," Yenne explained. "It clarified for me that this is a perfect storm. When an inmate costs the prison system too much, this is the escape hatch."

A statement from the head of the parole board said that Proffitt seemed to represent no continuing threat to society and that she was ill.

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