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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Benefit planned for Caitlyn Johnson, child set on fire by low-life, monster step-father

Posted on Mon, Jul. 20, 2009
The Wichita Eagle

The Wichita Eagle

Right: Caitlyn Johnson, burn victim from an arson fire March 14, family courtesy photo

A benefit to raise money for burn victim Caitlyn Johnson will be held late this month at the Prairie Rose Chuckwagon near Benton to help with the 10-year-old girl's care and living expenses.

Caitlyn was badly burned in March in a fire that destroyed her family's home.

Chris Newberry, her stepfather, has been charged with attempted murder and five counts of arson in the March 14 fire at the mobile home in the 5400 block of South Kansas.

Prosecutors allege that Newberry sprayed Caitlyn and her bed with lighter fluid and set her on fire while she slept. Newberry and Caitlyn's mother and three younger stepsiblings escaped the fire unharmed.

Bridget Newberry was questioned by police, but officials say she is not considered a suspect in the incident. Relatives of Caitlyn say they have not seen or heard from Bridget since she was questioned by police.

J.W. Johnson, co-owner of the Prairie Rose, is helping organize the July 31, 2009 benefit.
Authorities estimate that Caitlyn suffered second- and third-degree burns over 41 percent of her body.

Her uncle, Kenny Johnson, said he doesn't understand how officials come up with those percentages, because "she's burned all over — it's pretty bad."

She is now in protective police custody, as are Chris and Bridget Newberry's four young children.
"People should understand that Caitlyn will have to endure many surgeries over the next few years," Lisa Stephenson, a family friend, said in an e-mail. "As of today, I don't know of any surgery that will give her back her beautiful face."

The benefit will feature a silent auction from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., with a live auction at 7:30 p.m. Horse-drawn wagon rides, train rides and old cowboy movies will be available until dinner is served at 6:30 p.m.

An all-you-can-eat smoked brisket dinner will be followed by the live auction and concert by the Prairie Rose Rangers.

The silent and live auction includes autographed memorabilia by sports teams and nationally known bands.

Other items being offered include Western art, horses, horse tack, hay trailer, a mobile power chair, tools, home and garden decor, a pinball machine, fine jewelry by Mike Seltzer, and gift certificates from various businesses.

Additional donations for the auctions are being accepted.

Cash donations can be made at the event or be made to the Caitlyn Benefit Fund at Meritrust Credit Union locations.

Tickets for the benefit are $20 for adults and $10 for children ages 6 to 12.

Advance reservations are required, and can be made by calling 316-778-2121.

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