London ~~ June 13, 2007
Agonising death of woman set alight on a country lane
A young woman died in agony after she was doused in accelerant and set alight on a country lane on the edge of Merseyside on Monday evening.
Detectives said that the woman would have died in extraordinary pain, burnt “from head to toe”.
The victim, in her early twenties, who has yet to be identified, managed to crawl or stumble more than 100 yards to the nearest cottage to beg for help.
Although she was taken by ambulance to a specialist burns unit at Whiston Hospital, near Prescot, Merseyside, a short distance away, surgeons were unable to save her. She died less than three hours later.
A senior detective, who described how the victim’s clothes and skin had been burnt away, probably at the passing point on the remote lovers’ lane, said that it had been a particularly “callous and vicious” murder.
Detective Chief Superintendent Peter Currie said: “No one deserves to die like that. She must have been in extraordinary pain. What we need to do is find out who the young girl is. That is the main piece of the jigsaw. Once we have done that we can start putting together her lifestyle, who she is and who her friends are.”
Merseyside Police have issued photographs of a distinctive star-shaped gold pendant and ring that she was wearing. Officers hope that it will be recognised by family or friends. The woman was 5ft 2in (1.59 metres) tall, probably white, with a slim build and may have had blonde hair.
Detectives believe that she was driven from either Liverpool or Manchester in a vehicle that came to a halt at a passing spot along Mossborough Hall Lane. She was doused in petrol and set alight shortly before 9pm. Abandoned by her attackers, she managed to stagger, still smouldering, to raise the alarm.
When the couple at the cottage asked the woman who she was, she apparently tried to give a name but it was indistinct. The words appeared to be “Veronica, Monica or Larnia”.
A post-mortem examination was being carried out last night. Officers were anxious to discover whether she had been injured before being set on fire.
Jim Heyes, a farmer who lives near by, said: “Those who saw her say this girl was in an horrendous state. It must have been a terrible way to die.”