KINSTON, N.C. (WNCN) – A 41-year-old man is charged with attempted murder after Kinston police say he doused a woman with a flammable liquid and set her on fire Monday.
Venice Taylor, of Jacksonville, was arrested at about 7:08 p.m. He was taken into custody during a traffic stop along the 300 block of East Vernon Avenue in Kinston.
He’s being held at the Lenoir County Jail, a release said.
“In my 25 years of experience I’ve never seen such a breach of humanity,” said Interim Kinston Police Chief Tim Dilday.
Just before 11 a.m. Monday, a Kinston officer was flagged down while he was patrolling near Bright and East streets. Police say 24-year-old Khloe McNeal was on the sidewalk, suffering from severe burns to her upper body.
“I smelled flesh. I smelled flesh,” said Lakevious Smith.
Smith was walking in the neighborhood when the crime happened.
“They had a yellow sheet up. I’m like ‘oh man something happened.’ As soon as I walked by I heard the scream, but I couldn’t see. When I walked up I could see the police,” Smith said.
Police said McNeal was in her car at the intersection when a man approached her. There was a conversation before the man poured in the liquid on McNeal, and set her on fire while she was still in the car, police said.
Witnesses say several people tried to help her.
Dilday called the crime “heinous” and said police could not say at this time if the attack was random.
“We don’t know why. I don’t know of any correlation or connection between the victim and the offender in this case. There is cause for concern at this point,” Dilday said.
McNeal was taken to UNC Lenoir before being flown to the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center in Chapel Hill.
Smith said the violence was especially concerning and frustrating because it happened two blocks from Kinston’s police station.
“How do you expect to grab a hold of your city if they don’t fear the fact that you’re right here in the middle of it,” said Smith. “People aren’t scared of the police out here.”
Taylor is also charged with malicious maiming, resisting public officials, driving with a revoked license, and failure to stop for a blue light or siren.
Public records show Taylor has been convicted on several drug charges dating back to 1995. He was sentenced to community service last month for drug charges in Pitt County.
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