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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
By JONATHAN ABEL, Times Staff Writer
Published August 21, 2007
CLEARWATER - David McAuliffe's mobile home was filling up with smoke and flames, but he was fast asleep.
Then his cat, Scooby-Doo, started meowing.
McAuliffe told authorities and his mother that he ran out of his mobile home to get a hose but it was too late. The cat died and officials are now investigating the fire as "suspicious."
Flames broke out just before 3 a.m. Monday in the Capri Mobile Home Park off U.S. 19, near Sunset Point Road, according to Clearwater Fire Rescue spokeswoman Elizabeth Daly-Watts.
McAuliffe's home and vehicle were destroyed; two neighboring mobile homes were damaged as well, but no one was hurt.
Daly-Watts said she did not have a monetary estimate of the damage caused by the fire. One of the neighboring homes was not habitable, but its owner was out of state, according to a neighbor and the park manager. They planned to secure the property with plywood and new locks.
On Monday, McAuliffe was staying with a friend and could not be reached for comment.
The 45-year-old carpet installer lived alone with his brown-and-orange striped cat in a home his mother bought him four years ago.
Helen McAuliffe, who lives in Bristol, Tenn., said she received a frantic call from her son early Monday morning saying that everything was lost.
"All he had was the shirt on his back and a pair of pants," she said. "He didn't even have shoes. Everything was in that trailer."
But she told her son he was lucky: "You know that cat was like a guardian angel."