A Morrisdale woman is in jail after attempting suicide by fire.
State College police say Johnalee Smeal, 34, attempted to burn herself to death by wrapping herself in an ignited blanket, but crawled out of the apartment when the fire became too hot.
A resident at 725 S. Atherton St. woke up to a “chemical smelling cloud of smoke” entering his apartment on Jan. 10. The man exited the apartment, which is when he heard Smeal screaming from the parking lot. Smeal, who was visiting the apartment, was on the ground and covered in black soot, according to police.
Smeal admitted the fire was her fault. She sent text messages that said she started the fire in an attempt to kill herself, according to the affidavit of probable cause.
Smeal said she wrapped a towel or blanket around herself and used a butane lighter to ignite it. After starting the fire, Smeal said she went into the shower, closed the door and hoped to die from smoke inhalation before she burned. When the fire became too hot, she crawled out of the apartment and left the blanket or towel in the shower, according to court documents.
The apartment manager told police an insurance adjustor set damage in excess of $10,000.
Four other residents were in the building at the time of the fire, according to police.
Smeal was taken to the hospital but left against medical advice. Charges were filed in February and Smeal was taken into custody on March 4.
Smeal was charged with felony counts of arson and reckless burning or exploding and a misdemeanor count of criminal mischief.
Smeal was arraigned before District Judge Carmine Prestia, who set monetary bail at $100,000. She was unable to post bail and is being held at the Centre County Correctional Facility.
Smeal waived her preliminary hearing on Wednesday.