Courts & Crime

'Redneck flamethrower' incident leaves Alaska boy burned

Two Anchorage men who told investigators they were horsing around with a "redneck flamethrower" set a 5-year-old boy's head on fire and have been charged with felony assault and reckless endangerment, according to police and court records.

Jonathon Michael Miller, 29, and Stephen Ray Dilley II, 32, were jailed Tuesday after inflicting second-degree burns to the boy's head and singing his hair with an aerosol sprayer and lighter, according to Alaska State Troopers. The child, who was injured Friday, did not receive medical treatment until arriving at school near his home in Anchor Point on Monday.

"It was described to the troopers as an accident," troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said. "I mean a child, two guys, can of Quick Start, Bic lighter: How could this not go wrong?"

According to a troopers' affidavit filed in court, Miller told investigators he's been trying to toughen the boy up and the best way to do it is to "scare the s--t out of them when they don't see it coming."

Asked why the child had not gotten treatment, Miller told investigators, "Why go make bills for yourself over little things," according to the affidavit.

The child, identified only by his initials in court documents, suffered burns to the left side of his face, nose, eyelid and ear, according to troopers. Most of the hair on the left side of the boy's head was singed, along with some on the right side.

The boy told troopers he had not been in trouble and described the incident as a "practical joke gone wrong," Trooper Ryan Browning wrote in the affidavit. The child said he was playing in his room over the weekend when the incident occurred.

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