Crime

Police investigating her husband’s death found fire. Lexington woman faces new arson charge.

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A woman whose house was filled with smoke when detectives arrived to search for evidence in her husband’s 2017 death was indicted this week on an additional charge.

Carol Ann Hignite, 70, was indicted Tuesday on a charge of third-degree arson, which was added to her previous charges of murder and abuse or neglect of an adult, according to court records.

Lexington police were called to Hignite’s Holly Springs Drive house on Sept. 28, 2017, to check on the welfare of her husband, Leon Hignite.

Carol Hignite told investigators that he fell the night of Sept. 25, but that he had fallen before and recovered, according to court records. She said that after he fell on Sept. 25, she was unable to get in the bathroom because it was locked. About 15 minutes later, he came out of the bathroom, in which there was a “substantial amount of blood,” and lay on the bedroom floor, according to court records.

Carol Hignite said that she checked on her husband periodically, but didn’t think his injuries were severe enough to call the fire department, according to court records. He was down on the floor until several days later, on Sept. 28, when she called emergency services.

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Leon Hignite was taken to University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital, where he died of his injuries several days later. At the time, detectives believed his injuries were inconsistent with what Carol Hignite’s description of what happened, according to court records.

The same day that Leon Hignite was taken to the hospital, detectives executed a search warrant at the Holly Springs Drive house. When the detectives went inside, they smelled smoke and saw smoke “rising through the house,” according to court records.

The Lexington Fire Department extinguished the fire and found that it appeared to have started in the basement of the home. Around the area of the fire’s origin, investigators found a burned electric box fan, the remnants of a feather pillow and “other ordinary combustibles,” according to court records. Investigators also reported that there was a BIC grill lighter and Zoom Spout bearing oil nearby.

Also in the basement was a water line that had ruptured during the fire. Investigators believed that the line burst when the fire reached the ceiling, according to court records. The flow of water from the ruptured pipe helped contain the fire to the basement, records say.

Investigators hoped to find out the approximate time that the fire started by obtaining data from Kentucky American Water about the water flow of the broken pipe, according to court records. Carol Hignite had left the home to visit her husband in the hospital a little over three hours before detectives arrived to execute the search warrant, records say.

Carol Hignite was indicted on Tuesday after evidence was presented to a grand jury. She is scheduled to be arraigned on her new charge on April 26.

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