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Ventura County

2 Women Held in Beating of Man in Simi

April 17, 2002|DAVID KELLY and ANICA BUTLER | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

A Simi Valley woman and her teenage daughter have been arrested for allegedly setting fire to her husband's bedroom and then beating him in the head with a baseball bat.

Eileen Shannon Childs, 37, and her daughter, Jennifer Lee Childs, 19, were booked Monday on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder, attempted murder and aggravated arson.

The women are being held at the Ventura County Jail on $500,000 bail each.

Simi Valley police said the assault against Larry Childs, 55, occurred about 5 a.m. March 25 at the family home in the 2700 block of Atherwood Avenue.

One or both of the women set fire to Larry Childs' bedroom and then began bashing his head with a bat as he lay in the bed, police said.

Police and firefighters responding to the fire found Childs bleeding with multiple head injuries, authorities said.

Residents across the street said they were awakened by the fire trucks' sirens and the howling of neighborhood dogs.

One neighborhood resident recalled seeing the victim being helped by a next-door neighbor before police arrived, and the next day, she said, the two women returned to the house and used a garden hose to wash blood from the driveway.

After weeks of what they say has been a complicated investigation, police gathered enough information to arrest the wife and step-daughter.

The single-family home, situated in a middle-income neighborhood near Atherwood Elementary School, shows no obvious signs of fire or smoke damage.

Most neighbors said they didn't know much about the family except to describe them as polite and quiet.

A neighbor who identified herself only as Margie said Eileen Childs was a "very nice lady, very loving" who liked to take her two sons and daughter swimming.

Her daughter was also well-behaved and polite, the neighbor said.

Another neighbor, Kirk Shores, 58, said he saw Larry Childs the morning after the fire walking to a police car with his head heavily bandaged.

"I haven't seen him since," he said.

Police, citing privacy issues, are releasing little information on the case or the arrest, but Det. Randy Foushee said there has been no evidence that the attack was in retaliation for abuse.

Court records show Larry Childs was named as the defendant in a domestic-violence civil suit filed by his wife on March 26, a day after the fire and beating.

On Friday, Eileen Childs filed for divorce.

And on Tuesday--the day after his wife and step-daughter's arrest--Larry Childs filed a domestic-violence suit against Jennifer Childs.

For some residents, the arrest came as a relief because they had worried the incident may have been a random attack. "It was driving us crazy not knowing what was going on," said Cindy Rhea, 41. "We thought it was a robbery."

The Childs are set to be arraigned at 1:30 p.m. today.

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