Investigators: Former Owner May Be Target Of Weekend Tulsa Daycare Arsons

Monday, August 30th 2010, 12:45 pm
By: News On 6

By Lori Fullbright, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- The Tulsa Fire Department is investigating two weekend arsons they believe are related.

The fires were reported within 20 minutes of each other early Sunday morning.

8/29/2010  Related Story: One of Two Tulsa Daycare Fires This Weekend Ruled An Arson

The first fire was reported at 3:30 a.m. at the Precious Rose Child Care at 6528 East Pine. Molotov cocktails were thrown into the building, according to the fire department. At 3:46 a.m., another fire was reported at Weeland Child Care, located at 8106 East 24 Street. When firefighters arrived on scene, flames were coming from the windows of the building.

The same woman operated both of the daycare's until just recently. Investigators believe she may be the target.

After talking to people in the neighborhood, The News On 6 learned the woman had recently received some threats and now, it looks like those threats have turned violent.

Erma Ryder was just heartsick when she heard the daycare center she was taking over near Pine and Sheridan in Tulsa had been hit by two Molotov cocktails over the weekend.

The one on the roof didn't ignite, but the one thrown through the window did, burning the carpet and part of the walls.

Erma has just taken over the facility and is changing the name to "We Love Kids Learning Center." She's been repainting and decorating, hoping to get approval from the Department of Human Services to open soon.

This attack is a major setback and Erma said she doesn't know why someone would do this to a daycare.

"I was just terrified someone would do this to a daycare," she said. "It really got over us. This is kids' second home, something we try to build to make them feel safe, the main thing is safe."

The woman who used to run the daycare had just moved her operation to 24th and Memorial in Tulsa. Early Sunday morning, someone also threw a Molotov cocktail at it, just 15 minutes after the first building was hit, but this time, the fire did a lot more damage.

The News On 6 was told they were also remodeling and renovating and hadn't even opened yet. There is masking tape from where they were painting the outside, getting ready for business.

Neighbors told The News On 6 the woman had been threatened recently over some missing money, but investigators can't comment while the case is still open.

Erma just wants people to know she is now the new owner of this daycare and only wants to focus on her love of children.

"I want them to know this has no part of anything going on," she said. "I don't know what's being said or being done, but I'm no part in any of this. Just trying to make a living like everybody else."

Investigators do have a suspect in mind, but they still need more information about any threats made to the daycare operator or anyone who saw something suspicious at either location early Sunday morning.

If you have information, call the Tulsa Arson Hotline at 596-ARSN.