MAQUOKETA, Iowa -- They were the best of friends -- inseparable.
Tara Tallman, 15, Lynette Bodenhofer and Amanda O'Meara, both 12, always hung out together. Where you found one, you found the other two.
After school Wednesday, authorities say, Tallman and Bodenhofer allegedly doused O'Meara with gasoline and set her on fire over apparent jealousy about a boyfriend.
"It kind of makes your guts sick, doesn't it?" said Jack Rosenberg, who owns an auto parts store and serves as mayor of the eastern Iowa town of 6,500.
"I mean, over here, crime is usually running over mailboxes or driving over wet cement. Let's put it this way -- it blows your mind," he said.
Tallman and Bodenhofer paid O'Meara a visit Wednesday, carrying a soft drink bottle. O'Meara asked her pals for a sip.
Instead of soda, the bottle contained gasoline. They allegedly drenched O'Meara's eyes with gas and then her back as she bent over in pain. As her clothes and skin burned, authorities say, her best friends fled.
"I just remember them coming around the corner of the house, running," Tara's brother, Bret Tallman, 17, said Friday. "My sister screamed something like, 'Oh my God, Amanda O'Meara is on fire."'
O'Meara rolled on the ground and extinguished the flames. The girl, who was home alone, then went in her house and called authorities.
By nightfall, her friends had turned themselves in and O'Meara had been flown to University Hospitals in Iowa City with second- and third-degree burns over 25 percent of her body, the most severe ones on her arms, back, neck and head.
O'Meara was in fair condition Friday. Her mother declined to comment, hospital officials said.
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