A woman is now dead from burns all over her body after her ex-boyfriend poured gasoline on her and set her on fire in the wee hours of the night Sunday morning. He now faces capital murder charges.
According to FOX 6, Deborah Diane Prater, 49, broke off her three year on-again, off-again, relationship with Michael Kennedy, 48, about a month ago. He showed up at her home around 2:30 am on Sunday morning, July 27, 2014, and started an argument which ended with him dousing Ms. Prater with gasoline and setting her on fire.
Kennedy then fled the scene in his ex-girlfriend’s SUV, while authorities were called to the scene of a house fire reported in the Edgewood community of Birmingham, Alabama. What they found there was horrifying.
After being set on fire, Deborah Prater had “extensive burns to her head, arms, upper body and legs,” according to AL.com. There was also an area of burned carpeting surrounding her. The victim was taken to the burn unit at UAB hospital in serious condition, fighting for her life.
According to officials, her condition deteriorated late Monday. Deborah Prater died at 12:12 am Tuesday morning.
“What a sad and absolutely senseless loss for this family,” said Randy Christian, Chief Deputy from Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department. “Our hearts and prayers are with them and with her community. It takes a special kind of evil to do something like this. The kind of evil that has no place existing in our society.”
After stealing his victim’s 2000 Ford Expedition, Michael Kennedy went on the run. The SUV was found abandoned in a nearby community when an Alabama State Trooper was flagged down around 6 pm on Sunday and taken to the location of the vehicle. There was no sign of Kennedy, and the vehicle was towed to a secure location for processing for evidence.
Local news media took to the airwaves in the search for Kennedy. The fire-starter was reported to be from Mulga, with a Huntsville address on his drivers license. WVTM reports that he was apprehended more that 36 hours after setting his ex-girlfriend on fire. Authorities located him in Midfield just before 4 pm on Monday, just a few miles away from where he abandoned the vehicle earlier.
Although Reuters reports that the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office has no prior record of domestic violence incidents involving Kennedy and Prater, neighboring residents tell a different story. Though the police may never have been called in, WVTM reports that “[n]eighbors tell us the couple had a history of domestic violence.”
Michael Kennedy’s arrest for setting his ex-girlfriend on fire follows a history of run-ins with the law. According to AL.com, court documents reveal that he was charged in 1995 with first-degree robbery. However, he was found not guilty by reason of insanity. In 1999, an arrest resulted in his being sent to a mental health facility. In 2007, he was arrested for burglary and unlawful breaking and entering of a vehicle, and in 2009 for receiving stolen property. The charges in both 2007 and 2009 were all dismissed.
According to Kennedy’s family, he has been previously diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. His family was afraid for him while he was on the lam. They feared for his own safety, according to WVTM, in case he had gone off of his medications while he was running from the law after setting Ms. Prater on fire.
Two years ago, a San Francisco man followed his girlfriend to a laundromat and set her on fire, according to The Inquisitr. Later, CBS reported that he was charged with 11 felony counts, and his bail was set extremely high for his cowardly way of ending the fight with his girlfriend. The judge in the case supported the high bail, saying that the crimes were “very serious to the point of being heinous.”
Because of Michael Kennedy’s heinous actions towards his ex-girlfriend on Sunday, he was originally charged with first degree domestic violence and attempted murder, and bail was set at $60,000. Now, that Deborah Prater has perished from her injuries from being set on fire, those charges have been changed to capital murder. Bail has now increased, set at $250,000.
[images via Sarahanma, screenshot from WVTM, and Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office]