Before Kayden Culp was placed in an induced coma on Sunday, the 10-year-old special-needs child who had been lured to a Texas shack, doused with gasoline and set on fire was able to tell his mom the person responsible for the grisly attack needed to face justice: “He hurt me. He set me on fire. He needs to go to jail.”
Authorities had taken into custody Wednesday night one of the three boys – ages 9, 10 and 11 – believed to be involved in the horrific assault in the town of Kerrville. The unnamed juvenile was charged with first-degree arson, Culp’s aunt, Tanya Kasper, told FoxNews.com. But Culp’s family is also hoping additional charges will be levied, particularly because they believe the incident was premeditated.
“All the kids are talking, saying, ‘Hey, they set out to do it on purpose,’” Kasper said.
Kayden sustained first- and second-degree burns to nearly a quarter of his body, and, on Thursday, doctors were performing biopsies to determine the degree of skin grafts he would need, Kasper said.
“We want to keep in mind that these are kids, and they do need help,” Kasper said of the perpetrators. “We just want the proper justice done.”
Kasper said it was tough for the family to permit Kayden to go out and play in the first place due to fears others might take advantage of him because of his developmental difficulties.
“It was hard for us to allow him to go play,” she said. “He wasn’t a regular 10 year old; you didn’t know who really had good intentions for him.”
As a “hyperactive” kid, Kayden was “easily picked on every day,” Kasper said. But she also described a happy child who loved football and animals.
“He has a very good personality,” Kasper said. “It just takes patience to deal with Kayden.”
On Sunday, Kayden reportedly was riding his bike when he met up with an acquaintance.
“One of his friends -- who he felt like was his friend -- just happened to take him to the field, and there were kids waiting at the field,” Kasper said.
One boy doused Kayden and another lit him on fire. The degree of involvement of a third child is unknown.
As appalling as the episode was, it was apparently not entirely unforeseeable.
“One has always had issues being destructive and disruptive, and his mom even made the comment that she wasn’t able to handle him,” Kasper said.
A YouCaring page had already raised $21,145 as of Thursday morning – well past the initial $10,000 goal – as Kayden laid in a bed at University Hospital in San Antonio.
“So, basically he’s still on life support,” Kasper said. “We’re just hoping his body fights this off.”