Woman who was raped, burned dies in Kansas

AP News
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Posted: Nov 22, 2014 4:04 PM

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 36-year-old woman who had been sexually assaulted and set on fire died Saturday morning, police said, just over a week after she was found in a Wichita park with severe burns on more than half her body and cuts on her head.

Firefighters were responding to a late-night grass fire when they found the woman on Nov. 14 and took her to a hospital. Police Lt. James Espinoza told The Wichita Eagle (http://bit.ly/1zMOmco) that she died around 9:40 a.m. Saturday.

Cornell A. McNeal, 26, of Wichita, had been charged Friday with attempted capital murder and rape in the attack, as well as with two counts of arson stemming from fires that were set that day in the park and at a garage. Bond was set at $250,000.

Police Lt. James Espinoza told the newspaper that charges against McNeal would be amended following the death of the woman, whose name hasn't been released. Espinoza didn't immediately return a phone message or email from The Associated Press.

No attorney is listed for McNeal in online court records, and the Sedgwick County Public Defender's Office said Friday that it had not yet assigned him a lawyer.

Police said McNeal was linked to the attack by forensic evidence obtained after the woman was taken to a hospital. Authorities have said investigators believe she was attacked following a "random encounter" with the man, but no details have been released.

Sedgwick County District Court records show that a woman whom McNeal had once dated got a protection from abuse order against him in 2007, alleging that after she broke up with him, McNeal had threatened her and had broken windows out at her home and car. That woman is not the same person as the victim in the park case, police said.

Court records also indicate McNeal has a criminal history that includes misdemeanor convictions for criminal trespass and theft.

He was also charged with battery in a 2009 case that he appealed from municipal court to district court. He eventually pleaded no contest to disorderly conduct and was sentenced to time served.