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Tempers flare, angers blaze over weekend

LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / July 29, 1998

HAHNVILLE – It was a hot weekend in St. Charles Parish as tempers flaredand anger blazed.

On Saturday, Michael Gassen, 41, 315 Milling Ave., Luling, was chargedwith attempted murder after he tried to kill his 32-year-old girlfriend. Heallegedly doused her head to foot with gasoline, intending to set her on fire.

Fortunately, his disposable lighter failed to work.

Meanwhile, his intended victim was screaming, as gasoline had irritated her eyes and other areas. Gassen took her to the shower and wasattempting to clean the gas off her body when police arrived.

Lt. Dwayne LaGrange added that deputies responded to a disturbance in the300 block of Milling Avenue, Luling, of someone knocking on neighborhood windows, calling for help.

When deputies arrived, they heard screaming coming from within the residence and entered to find the couple in the shower.

At first, LaGrange said, Gassen claimed he was putting gasoline in his lawnmower, at 1:06 a.m., and splashed his girlfriend instead.Deputies doubted his story and pressed his girlfriend for the real story.

She said Gassen threatened her with bodily harm if she told on him.

The argument apparently began over her demands to see his beeper and find out who had been phoning him. He got angry and splashed her withgasoline, according to reports.

She was taken to St. Charles Parish Hospital, Luling, treated and released.He was jailed, with a $500,000 bond set by 29th Judicial District Judge Kirk Granier.

In an unrelated incident Sunday, Wayne E. Hoffman, 44, 116 Bonura Drive,St. Rose, was charged with aggravated arson after he attempted to burndown the residence of his 28-year-old girlfriend.

LaGrange said Hoffman had an argument with the victim over his late- night drinking. Deputies responded to a call at 11:41 p.m. Sunday andarrived to find Hoffman trying to mop the residence’s floor with a partially-burned mop.

The argument began with the girlfriend’s complaints about Hoffman’s drinking with friends, according to reports. He began shouting and declaredhe would burn down the place. He sprayed lighter fluid on the floor, tookout his lighter and set it on fire.

When she phoned the sheriff’s office, he apparently panicked and tried at first to put out the fire with water, then began trying to use a mop to dampen the flames.

Deputies found the vinyl floor partially melted in spots and the mop itself somewhat charred.

There were also three young children in the house at the time of the incident. No one was injured, LaGrange said.Hoffman was charged with aggravated arson and he remains in custody with a $50,000 bond set by Granier.

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