Man convicted of trying to burn woman alive

Text said she would 'burn in hell'
May. 29, 2014 @ 08:06 AM

A Lenoir man admitted in court Tuesday to setting fire to his ex-girlfriend's house one night three years ago while she and her son slept inside.

Cecil Everette Saunders Jr., 50, of Dottie Drive in Gamewell pleaded guilty in Caldwell Superior Cour to two counts of attempted murder, first-degree arson and attempted burning of personal property. Saunders was sentenced to 13 to 17 years in prison.

In the early morning hours of April 1, 2011, a fire was set on the porch of 402 Renwick St. in Lenoir, where Leslie Maria Bradley, 43, and her then-12-year-old son, Charles Noah Cawrse, lived. Investigators found that the fire was started outside Bradley's bedroom window with gasoline, and the seat of Bradley's 1994 Toyota Camry was also soaked in gasoline, court records said.

Bradley told Lenoir police that Saunders had sent her a text message shortly before the fire saying that she "was going to burn in hell," records said.

Police found Saunders in Room 109 of the Red Carpet Inn on Wilkesboro Boulevard. Saunders admitted he set the fire, records said. He said he had walked from the motel to a gas station at McLean Drive and Hickory Boulevard, then to Bradley's house. Surveillance video from the gas station showed Saunders, shortly before the fire was set, carrying a red plastic gas can.