Wife, neighbor speak after Schenectady man allegedly lit on fire by stepson

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A Schenectady mom wants help for her son who allegedly lit his stepfather on fire.

“We heard a bang on the window,” Mike Bowens said. “I heard somebody say, you know, like, ‘Mike, help me, please.’”

Bowens said the desperate cries came from his neighbor Kevin Hawkins, the man police said was doused in gasoline and lit on fire by his 29-year-old stepson.

“He was so burnt, his skin was melting off of him,” Bowens recalled.

Bowens quickly had the children at his daycare brought upstairs and then rushed to Hawkins.

“I run him into the bathroom, and I said, ‘Sit down. Sit down,’” he explained. “You know, he’s like, ‘Call 911. Call 911,’ and then he started praying.”

Hawkins remains in critical condition at Westchester Medical Center. His wife, Latonia Hawkins, spoke to NEWS10 ABC over the phone. She’s at the hospital with her husband.

She said her son, Andrell Leppanen, suffers from bipolar disorder and possibly schizophrenia.

“He became agitated, and you know, you could just see it in his eyes that he wasn’t right,” she said.

Latonia said her son went to Ellis Hospital multiple times before the incident for help. His last visit was days before the violent attack.

“I had to bring him back, and they told me that they couldn’t keep him against his will,” she said. “And I begged them not to release him because something wasn’t right.”

Leppanen pleaded not guilty to Arson and Criminal Mischief in court on Monday. The felony charges, including Attempted Murder, will be addressed at an upcoming hearing.

“I just want him to get that help,” Latonia said. “I don’t want him locked away. I don’t think he realizes, like, what he did. I don’t think he realizes.”

Latonia said her husband is fighting for his life.

“He responded to my voice,” she said. “The swelling is going down.”

Latonia said she is reading to her husband, and she thinks it helps.

If you would like to send a card to Hawkins, it can be dropped off at Keys World at 885 Albany St., Schenectady, N.Y., 12307.

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