North Carolina man accused of setting woman on fire in random attack


A North Carolina man doused a woman in flammable liquid and then set her on fire during a “heinous,” random attack, police said.

Venice Taylor, of Jacksonville, was arrested during a traffic stop late Monday in Kinston, where a 24-year-old victim was set on fire earlier in the day as she stopped at an intersection, police said in a statement.

An officer who was flagged down by a passerby then found the woman — identified in reports as Khloe McNeal — on a sidewalk with severe burns to her upper body, police said.

“It is a rare, heinous crime,” Kinston Interim Police Chief Tim Dilday told WNCT. “It’s, obviously to the victim and her family, unimaginable.”

Investigators have not found any link or connection between the 41-year-old suspect and McNeal, Dilday said.

“It does appear to be a random act,” the chief told the station.

McNeal, of Kinston, was taken to a hospital before being airlifted to the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center, where an update on her condition was unavailable, a hospital staffer told The Post early Wednesday. She had been listed in critical condition Tuesday, WITN reports.

Police said Taylor also set a relative’s home on fire about an hour before he set his sights on McNeal, but the blaze apparently died out before the homeowner returned. The victim in that incident has been identified as Taylor’s mother, according to WITN.

Some Kinston residents, meanwhile, said they were shaken by the gruesome nature of the indiscriminate attack.

“I heard the car when it sped down the street and I heard her yelling,” witness Jessie Davis told WNCT. “So I came running out and I seen her like, on fire, it was devastating. You would never think that would happen early [in the] morning.”

Taylor, who is facing charges included attempted murder and malicious maiming, was ordered held on $2 million bond during his initial court appearance Tuesday. His next date in court is set for Feb. 18.

An online fundraiser for McNeal, meanwhile, had raised more than $600 as of Wednesday for the cosmetology student.

“I don’t think Khloe’s current condition is public, and I’m not going to be the one to share it if it’s not,” the Facebook fundraiser reads. “BUT what I will say is Khloe is a fighter. She is strong as hell! And that is exactly what she is doing right now. Fighting.”