Family concerned about case of man accused of setting house on fire with wife, children inside

CYPRESS, Texas – Family members of the victims in an arson and child endangerment case say they are concerned about the direction of the criminal case against the suspect.

Jimmy Klayton Lauder is accused of setting his home on fire with his wife, 4-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter inside.

It happened Dec. 16 in the 12100 block of Rockharbor Lane in Cypress.

"As a parent and a grandparent, this is probably one of the worst things you could ever go through," Tessie Fraysur, mother of Lauder's wife, Lindsey Yanchak, said in a news conference Wednesday.

Fraysur said she was on the phone with her daughter as Lauder unleashed terror throughout the family's home.

"I got the call at four in the morning from my daughter, who was upstairs locked in a bedroom with the two kids, terrified because he was destroying the house," Fraysur said.

She said her daughter told her Lauder threatened to burn the house down.

"When she started smelling gasoline, I told her to please call 911. If you don't call, I'm calling right now. Then she heard the clicking of the stove and that's when she called," Fraysur said.

Yanchak and her two young children were able to escape unharmed.

Lauder was arrested and charged with felony arson and felony child endangerment.

Now, the family says conversations they've had with the prosecuting attorney in the case have them worried they won't get the justice they seek.

"She point-blank asked me, 'You don't think probation's a punishment?' No, I don't, not for this," Fraysur said. "I think this is a crime where the punishment needs to be jail."

In a statement, the Harris County District Attorney's Office said: "The defendant stands charged with two felonies, and if convicted, faces up to life in prison. A judge has also issued a protective order covering the mother and her children. No plea agreement has been offered, nor have any decisions been made regarding possible punishment."

Lauder's defense attorney, Chip Lewis, told KPRC2, "There's been no discussion about any resolution of this case. No one has asked for probation, no one has offered probation."

There is another hearing in the case Thursday.

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