VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – The girlfriend of a homeless man who allegedly set him on fire has been taken into custody, the Volusia County Sheriff's Office said.
It happened in a homeless camp in the woods off North Woodland Boulevard, north of DeLand.
Deputies said the 34-year-old man suffered burns over about half of his body.
The Sheriff's Office was alerted shortly after 4 p.m. Saturday by someone who said that a woman had asked her to call 911 because her boyfriend got burned while they were trying to start a fire. Deputies said the woman pedaled off on a bicycle.
While a dispatcher was talking to the caller, she said she heard faint screaming sounds coming from the woods, deputies said. The caller told authorities there was a naked man in the middle of the road arguing with a woman.
The Sheriff’s Office said it received two other calls around the same time from witnesses who saw a naked man on the side of North Woodland Boulevard. Deputies said one caller said he was yelling for help and the other said he appeared to be writhing in pain.
Paramedics began treating the victim and prepared him for an ambulance transport. When deputies arrived, they were told that this was no accident, the Sheriff's Office said.
The victim told deputies his 41-year-old girlfriend, identified as Annie Harper, had doused his shorts with an accelerant and then set him on fire because she was mad at him for not providing her with drugs, the Sheriff's Office said. The two are homeless and live together in the woods.
The victim was taken to a hospital in Daytona Beach to be stabilized. Deputies said he was expected to be taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center's burn unit.
Deputies spotted Harper's bicycle at a nearby convenience store. The Sheriff's Office said the deputies found her and took her into custody for questioning.
Harper claimed the victim set himself on fire after he argued with her. The Sheriff's Office said deputies, however, noted that Harper exhibited signs of deception during questioning and gave several different accounts of the events.
Harper was charged with aggravated battery. Deputies said they added a second misdemeanor battery charge after a witness reported seeing Harper kick the victim as he was lying on the ground.