Man arrested after woman is burnt to death

Last updated at 08:51 13 June 2007

A 26-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murdering a young woman by deliberately setting her on fire, police said today.

The woman, who has not been identified, was found with horrific burns in Rainford, Merseyside, just after 9pm on Monday night.

She managed to stagger to a cottage to beg for help but died later in hospital. It is thought she might have been set alight using an accelerant.

Police said a man from Liverpool was being questioned over her death. A spokeswoman for Merseyside Police said: "We have arrested a 26-year-old man from West Derby on suspicion of murder.

"The arrest follows the death of a woman who died after being found with burns in Rainford.

The man was arrested shortly before midnight last night in the Croxteth area of Liverpool.

"He has been taken to a police station on Merseyside where he will be questioned. The woman has not yet been identified. However, officers are following possible lines of inquiry."

Paramedics were called to Blindfoot Lane in the semi-rural Rainford area and the badly-burnt woman was taken to Whiston Hospital, where she later died.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Detective Chief Superintendent Peter Currie said the woman managed to stagger 150 yards with horrific burn injuries from head to foot to raise the alarm.

He said: "Obviously she was in a terrible condition. She collapsed on the doorstep and the couple who live at the house were asking who she was. She said something like Monica, Veronica or Larnia."

The couple, who immediately called for help, are said to be extremely traumatised following the incident.

Mr Currie said the woman's clothing had been completely burnt off and the only identifiable items were two distinctive pieces of jewellery - a ring, thought to be gold, on her right ring finger and a pendant shaped like a ship's steering wheel.

He said he could only speculate on any potential motive, but it is thought the woman does not live in the area.

Detectives believe a vehicle brought her to the remote country lane and dumped her at a passing point before setting her on fire, using an accelerant such as petrol.

A van was found burnt out about a mile from the scene, but police do not believe it is connected to the murder.

Mr Currie said: "We need to find out who this young girl is, that is the main piece in the jigsaw.

"This is absolutely horrific. She was a young girl with her whole life ahead of her, it's really tragic.

"This is a really callous and vicious attack. She is only small and quite possibly could not defend herself."

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