Man Convicted of Lighting Military Nurse on Fire and Attacking Her as She Screamed, 'I Knew This Would Happen'
A Kansas man was convicted Tuesday of attacking a military nurse with a razor blade and setting her on fire with gasoline at the hospital they both worked at, PEOPLE confirms.
Clifford Currie faces up to 20 years in prison after being convicted of assault with attempt to commit murder for the 2016 attack at a Fort Leavenworth military hospital, a Kansas District Court Clerk official tells PEOPLE.
On Sept. 7, shortly after 5 p.m., Currie, a civilian who worked in an administrative capacity at the hospital, entered Army Lt. Katie Blanchard’s office with a plastic bottle in his hand containing gasoline. He doused Blanchard, his boss, with the gasoline and then set her on fire, and used a razor blade to cut her, a federal criminal complaint states.
He later ran to his office to grab a pair of scissors to stab her with and put his foot on Blanchard’s throat to hold her down, but a witness pushed him away. While Currie was being restrained by military colleagues, Blanchard, covered and blood and badly burned, screamed, “I told you this would happen!”
Blanchard tells PEOPLE that since a January 2016 dispute, Currie had behaved in an aggressive and threatening manner towards her, including cornering her in an office and yelling at her.
Since the attack, Blanchard has been receiving treatment in San Antonio and sharing her progress with friends and family on Facebook. She tells PEOPLE she is pleased with the conviction but is still grappling with the trauma of the attack.
“I’m very grateful and very thankful. While [Currie] going away is sort of relief for me, I wasn’t expecting it to be like this,” Blanchard says. “I thought I’d wait this year, he’d be sentenced and I’d find some kind of peace. But it’s hard to find that peace when so much has been taken from me.”
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Blanchard’s attorney tells PEOPLE he believes the Army should be held partially responsible for the attack, alleging the army “ignored the warning signs.”
“Katie and her family are very satisfied that Currie is held criminally accountable, however the Army could have prevented this and they didn’t,” attorney Will Helixon says. “So now we’re looking to those hold in the military who ignored the warning signs accountable.”
In the criminal complaint, witnesses said Blanchard had voiced her concern about her subordinate and even asked to have someone accompany her when she worked with him directly.
According to Blanchard, her requests were denied.
PEOPLE was unable to reach Munson Army Health Center or Army officials for comment on Thursday.
Blanchard began working in the department in late October 2015 and went on maternity leave one month later. During that time she had not had much interaction with Currie, she tells PEOPLE. However, when she returned, Blanchard began to spend more time working with him and after an unsolicited argument in his office, she felt uneasy around Currie.
“He looked at me and he was wild and he was aggressive,” she says looking back to the encounter in January. “I really felt like he was going to hurt me.”
From that moment on, Blanchard spoke to multiple supervisors at the hospital, even submitting a memorandum for behavioral issues, she says. But she alleges that no action was taken.
“When I was lying on the ground, I just [thought] ‘You guys did this, you knew this was going to happen and you allowed this to happen,'” she says looking back. “I felt utterly let down.”
Currie was found not guilty of assault with a dangerous weapon, a clerk officials says. His attorneys could not be reached for comment.
It is unknown whether he plans to appeal his convictions. His sentencing date is not yet set.