Kansas woman critical after sex assault, set afire

AP News
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Posted: Nov 17, 2014 6:18 PM

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A woman who was sexually assaulted and set on fire was in critical condition Monday, and police turn to the public for help in finding her assailant.

Investigators have been unable to interview the victim at the hospital due to her medication and condition, but the Wichita woman gave a very brief description of her assailant at the scene, said police Lt. James Espinoza.

Firefighters responding to a grass fire found the 36-year-old woman with severe burns over 55 percent of her body and cuts on her head. The attack happened sometime between 10:50 p.m. and 11:15 p.m. Friday at Fairmount Park.

"It is a very heinous act, very cruel," Espinoza said.

It is so early in the investigation that police do not know if the attacker may be someone who knew the victim, nor do they know why she was set on fire, he said.

"We would know if we had a suspect, but we don't right now," Espinoza said.

Police have not yet determined why the woman was in the park, and Espinoza said the victim did not have a nearby car.

Police are urging any witnesses to contact authorities. They are looking for anyone who may have seen a person running away, a vehicle speeding off from the area Friday evening or a couple walking in the park.

While the attack occurred near Wichita State University, the victim was not a student. The university plans a public forum Tuesday to address students' concerns.