Volunteer Allegedly Steals $800 In Donations From Survivor Safyre Terry Who Lost Father, Sister, And Brothers In Arson Attack

Kimberly Bradford, 41, one of the volunteers who helped burn victim Safyre Terry, 8, sort out the horde of cards she got during Christmas has been charged with fourth-degree grand larceny, Syrcause Post-Standard is reporting.

Bradford is accused of pinching over $800 in cash and gift cards from Safyre after her wish to celebrate Christmas, even without her immediate family around. Her story went viral when her aunt and legal guardian, Liz Dolder 43, posted a message on Facebook for people to send her cards to hang on the Yuletide tree.

“I went to Goodwill and bought a Christmas card tree. She helped me put it up. When we got our first Christmas card, she was so excited,” Her aunt said. Dolder said Safyre turned to her and stated, “I can’t wait to fill it all up,” to which she replied “Honey I don’t think we’re going to end up filling that.”

Over one million cards and numerous gifts were received from the likes of Katy Perry, Beyoncé, The White House, and thousands of well-meaning Americans. Bradford worked with a group known as Safyre’s Angels, saddled with the task of sieving the swarm of gifts and cards coming in for the brave burn victim. Organizers received word that some volunteers were pilfering the donations and called in the police. This led to an arrest and charges against Bradford. She is in jail on $5,000 bail. If convicted, she faces up to four years in prison.

It was an early morning in May 2013, when investigators said an arsonist set fire to the apartment staircase in Schenectady, N.Y, some few miles from Albany where Safyre and her family lived. The fire killed David Terry, 32, Safyre’s father; her 2-year-old brother, Michael; her 3-year-old sister, Layah; and her 11-month-old half brother, Donovan Duell. When fire fighters quelled the fire and pulled Terry from the ashes, Safyre was underneath him, barely alive.

She had suffered burns over her body and had lost the skin on her face, her entire left hand, and part of her left foot. “The first moment I saw her, I was not prepared. She did not have a face anymore. It was all burned off — all but a small patch on her forehead. Doctors were just trying to make her comfortable until she passed away. But she wanted to live. Her heart was beating strong,” Her aunt said.

Over the years, Safyre has had 65 surgeries, including amputating her left foot. “We opted to do it; it was very sensitive. She didn’t have a sole left, so when she stepped on something, it was like knives were going through her foot. There was no movement– her ankle didn’t bend and her joints were fused together from the fire. In order for her to have a better quality of life, she had it removed.”

Jennica Duell, Safyre’s mother, was not home during the fire. Her whereabouts raised suspicions and became a focal point during the investigations. By the same evening of the incident, Duell had signed a statement leading to the arrest of 27-year-old Rob Butler.

Duell’s cinematic confession led to the arrest of Butler, whom she accused of starting the deadly blaze while she watched. Duell said she had gone to Saratoga Springs to do drugs with Butler and they had returned to set fire to the stairwell.

She said she tried to save her children, but Butler did not allow her. On Jan 31, 2014, she changed her statement in front of the same grand jury, testifying that she never left Saratoga Springs with the suspect. Butler had been in custody for nine months. He was later released.

Duell has been in jail for the past 14 months accused of lying to a federal grand jury under oath.

The arson remains unsolved.

Despite her injuries, Safyre is “no different from other second-graders. She’s spunky, she’s straightforward, she’s a go-getter. She’s determined, very determined,” Dolder said.

[AP Photo/Mary Esch]