A City of Tonawanda woman had moved out of the home she shared with her boyfriend and their three children shortly before he allegedly splashed flammable liquid on her and set her on fire, Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn Jr. said Friday.
Jonathon E. White, 28, was arraigned Friday in his room at Erie County Medical Center on charges that included attempted murder, first-degree assault, first-degree arson and counts of reckless endangerment, weapons possession and menacing.
White is accused of luring Jessica Cameron, 25, out of the Tim Hortons at Niagara and Seymour streets in Tonawanda Monday afternoon and allegedly setting her ablaze near a dumpster behind the store.
White also was a Tim Hortons employee, but wasn't working that day, Flynn said.
A third worker "saw a fireball," Flynn said, and helped extinguish the flames on Cameron.
White also was badly burned.
Flynn said White used snow to put out the fire on himself, and then tried to help the other worker extinguish the flames on Cameron.
"Multiple parts of her body are burned and she is in bad shape," Flynn said. "This is a bad case, and while I always make it a point to say that Mr. White is innocent until proven guilty, I obviously believe he's guilty right now, or I wouldn't have arraigned him, and I will do whatever I can to get this poor girl justice."
The DA wouldn't comment on the motive for the alleged attack other than to mention that Cameron had recently left White.
Flynn refused to comment when asked if the alleged incident might have been a murder-suicide attempt by White.
Asked whether White might have been trying to kill himself and not Cameron, the district attorney was skeptical.
"I obviously don't believe that, because I've charged him with attempted murder," Flynn said. He said he was convinced the alleged attack on Cameron was intentional.
Flynn said the couple had three children — aged 1, 3 and 4 — who left with Cameron when she moved into her mother's home recently.
White remained in serious condition in ECMC's intensive care unit.
Flynn said he doesn't think White really needs to be there, but Flynn directed that White and Cameron, who was in critical condition in the burn treatment unit, should be kept apart.
Flynn said that until Wednesday night, White wasn't able to communicate well enough to be arraigned. He was denied bail, and a preliminary hearing was set for Thursday in Tonawanda City Court.
Flynn said he's still deciding whether to try to obtain a grand jury indictment before then, which would result in the cancellation of that hearing.