ALBANY, Ga. -- According to Albany Police Department reports, a domestic altercation that put a 63-year-old man in a burn unit and a 65-year-old woman in jail Tuesday stretched through more than seven hours.
Ernest Ward was listed Wednesday in fair condition at the Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta, a burn center spokeswoman said. Ward suffered burns from boiling water that was poured on him by Joanne Clipper at the 955 South St. residence the couple shares, stated a police report.
Clipper was in Dougherty County Jail on Wednesday with no bail set. She was charged with aggravated assault and aggravated battery stemming from the fight, a jail spokeswoman said.
According to police reports, this is how the argument built to violence. Police arrived at the South Street residence about 11 a.m. Tuesday to find the two in an oral argument about laundry detergent in grits and a broken cell phone. That domestic violence call was listed as unfounded. Typically an unfounded call means that there are no physical injuries, broken furniture or other signs of violence.
According to the report, Ward said Clipper broke his cell phone. He also said she poured laundry soap into a pot of grits he was cooking that morning.
Clipper admitted pouring soap into Ward's grits, but showed that the phone she damaged was hers, the report added.
"Joanne (Clipper) was not arrested, but was given a verbal warning," the police officer's on-scene report said. "I did not observe any signs of physical contact on either party."
A second report stated the violence came more than six hours later.
Ward went to sleep before 6:30 p.m. and Clipper poured boiling water on his back, the report stated. The couple struggled and Clipper tried to stab Ward with a fork, the report added.
"Once he was able to get away from her, he locked himself inside the room," said Phyllis Banks, police spokeswoman. "Clipper set fire on the outside of the door. That caused the residence to catch fire. Ward jumped out of the window."
In her version of events, Clipper said that Ward "hit her in the back of the head with a steel frying pan. I observed a large laceration in the back of her head," the officer at the scene reported.
Another officer's report stated that Clipper said she was defending herself with the boiling water. "Ms. Clipper also stated that she intentionally set the fire to try and kill Mr. Ward. Because he tried to kill her," the report states.
Albany Fire Department firefighters arrived and extinguished the fire in about 10 minutes, said Sam Harris, fire department arson investigator.
"It caused about $1,000 in damage," Harris said. "The fire spread from magazines she lit with a lighter in the hallway to the bedroom door. I can't say when she put it out, but there were instructions on her funeral arrangements at the scene."
Harris added that arson charges against Clipper were pending. No information on whether there would be domestic violence charges against Ward was immediately available.