New Jersey

Mom, Cousin Torch South Jersey Home, Try to Kidnap Daughter: Police

A mother of four and her cousin are accused of trying to burn down a South Jersey home with her children inside before attempting to kidnap one daughter amid a bitter custody dispute.

Lynette McGuire, 32, and Denise Coyle, 33, cousins who both live in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, are charged with aggravated arson, attempted kidnapping and burglary.

The women set fire to McGuire's parent's home on Lafayette Court in Washington Township, New Jersey on Thursday night, according to police.

Bryan McGuire, Lynette's father, said his daughter banged on his front door demanding to see her children, who range in age from 3 to 14 years old. He didn't oblige, however, telling NBC10 "she didn't look too good."

The grandparents were granted foster rights two days before the dispute.

"I open up my shade and I looked out and it was my daughter saying 'Get my kids out of the house. I want my kids out of the house,'" he recalled.

Frightened, the children hid in the basement. Within minutes, as Bryan called police, Lynette told him the house was on fire.

The grandparents and children were able to escape the house without harm, but police said in the commotion, Coyle grabbed the 3-year-old and put her in a car.

The women tried to drive away, but police were able to stop them about a mile away and place the duo under arrest. The child was returned to the grandparents without harm.

"If not for the timely response of the Washington Township Police Department and the Washington Township Fire Department, this incident may have ended quite differently,” said Gloucester County Prosecutor Sean F. Dalton.

The McGuire's home suffered significant damage. They do not have insurance and are relying on the kindness of friends, neighbors and strangers.

A GoFundMe account has been set up. The Washington Township Fire Department said donations are being accepted at Bunker Hill Middle School and the Grenloch Terrace Early Childhood Center.

"It's not about the mother, I mean obviously that's a problem, but it's more you want these kids to have a good holiday and hopefully the grandparents can rebuild their home," neighbor Kevin Cox said.

This isn't the first tragedy the McGuire family has faced. Bryan and his wife, Jeanette, lost three of their children at very young ages.

Two decades ago, the couple lost a baby at birth. A few years later, their 5-year-old daughter died of a staph infection. In May 2014, their 14-year-old son died suddenly of a heart attack. Lynette is their only surviving child.

Lynette McGuire and Coyle are being held on $100,000 bail each. Additional charges are pending.

It wasn't immediately known whether either woman has hired an attorney.

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