Police yesterday charged a 24-year-old female resident of a Spring Garden boardinghouse with arson and murder in a fire early Saturday that killed one resident and seriously injured two others.
Jhontue Ryals, who lived in the four-story brownstone at 1836 Green St. that housed Pace Personal Care Boarding Home, was also charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person, and related offenses.
Police said the motive was a dispute Ryals had with others. Killed was Charles Johnson, who was described by neighbors as elderly and mild-mannered, and not likely the person Ryals argued with.
Efforts yesterday to reach the operators of Pace Personal Care, which looks after physically and mentally disabled people, were unsuccessful.
Neighbors said that hours before the fire started about 4 a.m., Ryals was seen arguing with one of the home's resident workers.
Neighbor Henry Snell, 41, said that about 20 minutes before the fire broke out, he saw Ryals attempting to set fire to garbage cans in front of the home with a cigarette lighter.
To distract her, Snell said, he asked her to give him a light. He said she then launched into a tirade about an argument she had with people inside the home over her desire to get some snacks in the wee hours of the morning.
Snell said the woman complained that she had bad kidneys and was on dialysis and should not have been put out in the cold.
Another neighbor, Joe Early, 57, who said he had been sleeping on steps of Enon Baptist Church across the street from the boardinghouse, said the woman had been out in the cold about two hours before she went in.