A Florida mother, whose daughter was brutally raped and murdered at the hands of a sick pedophile, ultimately got her revenge at the twisted man’s expense.
In October 2009, Diena Thompson’s seven-year-old daughter, Somer, was abducted by Jarred Harrell, then brought to his home where he sexually assaulted her and dumped her body in the garbage like a piece of trash. Young Somer’s body was found in a Georgia landfill two days after her disappearance, which crushed her family and sent shockwaves through the community.
Harrell, then-24, was eventually arrested for the heinous crime, and upon his conviction for first-degree murder, kidnapping, sexual battery, and lewd and lascivious conduct, he was given a life sentence, which he’s currently serving.
The house that Harrell lived in, which is also where the grisly crime took place, was owned by Harrell’s mother and became vacant when he went to prison, according to the Florida Times Union. When it went into foreclosure, the bank transferred ownership of the house to the organization set up by the grieving mother called the Somer Thompson Foundation, which then donated it to the Orange Park Fire Department for a training exercise.
On Thursday, the fire department conducted their exercise, accompanied by Diena and hundreds of bystanders. Decked out in firefighter’s gear, Diena was led to the back of the home, where she was given a flare to toss through the window and set the home ablaze, getting the satisfaction of torching the home where her daughter met her untimely fate at the hands of a pervert.
“Burn, baby, burn!” Diena was heard saying as the house engulfed in flames, according to News4Jax.
For Diena, it was more than getting revenge against the man who committed the vicious act on her daughter, burning the house down also gave her a sense of closure.
“I get to burn their house down,” Diena said. “I’m the big bad wolf this time knocking down your door, not the other way around.”
“It’s really nice to know that I’m not ever going to have to drive in this neighborhood again and see this piece of trash,” she added.
What’s even better is that the day before she burned the home to the ground, firefighters accompanied Diena into the vacant home and let her unload on the interior with an ax. She unleashed her frustrations on the walls, knocking holes in them and destroying everything she could.
“I wanted to throw myself into the walls. I wanted to hurt the house, but I know I can’t hurt an inanimate place with my body,” she said. “But it felt good at the same time.”
It took a little over an hour for the house to burn to the ground, and with it went the horrible memories that Diena would be reminded of whenever she saw it. Orange Park Fire Chief Ty Silcox thought it only appropriate to give her the satisfaction of setting fire to the home where her daughter’s life was taken.
“Maybe it will help her heal a little bit,” he said.
Neighbors in the area also agreed, saying that the home being demolished will help everyone to heal from the horrific events that unfolded inside of it.
“I think it’s a symbolic day where the mother of that poor little girl will get some closure,” said Bob Hatanpa. “It’s an ugly eyesore and a reminder of what went on. I’m so glad this day has come.”
While torching the home felt good for Diena, she said it also brought back memories of her daughter, reminding her of how much she really missed her.
“It [the house] just represents pure evil,” she said. “The devil was in there.”
“There will never be closure,” she added. “It will never be over. But I definitely feel like it will be part of the healing process, not just for myself but for the entire community just not to have to look at that hellhole.”
The Somer Thomas Foundation has plans to turn the lot into something good for the community, which is only fitting given the circumstances. While no plans have been finalized, Diena said they’re considering building a memorial garden or something similar.
It’s not often that the family of a victim is given the opportunity to enact such sweet revenge against the person who perpetrated a crime against them, and it seems as if she loved every minute of it. While burning a home will never replace such a loss, at least she had the satisfaction of knowing that no evil will ever be committed in the home again, and that has to feel good.