Carolyn Roy, KSLA, March 19, 2013
The Winnsboro woman who police say set herself on fire in October and reported she had been the victim of a racially-motivated attack is now facing criminal charges.
20-year-old Sharmeka Moffitt was rushed to the Regional Burn Center at LSU Hospital back on October 21, after a 911 call brought police to Civitan Park.
In the call, police say Moffitt reported that she had been attacked by three men in white hoodies. State police also later confirmed that “KKK” had been smeared on the hood of Moffitt’s car in a paste-like substance, with a racial slur underneath.
Moffitt allegedly told police the men doused her in a flammable liquid and set her on fire. Lewis said she extinguished the fire using water from a nearby spigot before a police officer arrived.
Word of the horrific attack spread quickly on social media, with speculation swirling that it was a hate crime that prompted the NAACP to call for a thorough investigation of the incident.
Two days later, Winnsboro Police Chief Lester Thomas revealed that their investigation had linked Moffitt’s fingerprints to a lighter and a bottle of lighter fluid found at the scene.
“The investigation (of) Ms Moffitt has revealed that this was not an attack but a self-inflicted incident that happened to her,” said Chief Thomas.
Moffitt has since been released from the hospital and returned to Winnsboro.
On Tuesday morning, Franklin Parish 5th District Attorney Mack Lancaster confirmed that his office had filed a bill of information charging Moffitt with one count of terrorizing and one count of false swearing for the purpose of violating public safety.
Lancaster says Moffitt isn’t a flight risk and won’t be required to turn herself in. Bond will be set at her arraignment on April 23rd. If convicted, she faces up to 15 years in prison, but probation is also an option.