Man arrested for trying to set woman on fire

By Evrod Cassimy - bio | email
Posted by Eric Blackstock - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Richmond police have charged 64-year-old Charles Wallace with attempted murder. They believe he tried to kill his neighbor, Deborah Hayes, who lives across the street from him by setting her on fire Tuesday.

"Yesterday, he poured gas on me. I was in my truck, getting ready to go to church and he poured the gas on me. I didn't realize it was gas until I smelled it," said Hayes, who lives on Zion Road.

Hayes considers herself lucky to have escaped this incident alive.

"If it was nobody but the grace of God because he had a newspaper, a lighter and everything. It wouldn't light so I know it was God that kept that lighter from lighting because if it won't, I would have been burnt up today, either dead or in the hospital fighting for my life," Hayes said.

Police spent most of the morning looking for Wallace, who was not at home directly after the incident. Neighbors rushed to help Wallace when they heard her screaming. Larry Taylor reacted to help a friend in need.

"Well I think anybody would have done the same thing I done. I don't think I done anything any other person would have done given the situation," Taylor said.

"The angels and God had me yesterday. They had me! I know they had me! Cause if they didn't, I wouldn't be standing here today," Hayes said.

Deborah Hayes: "I feel said. I feel sad and it's hurt."
Evrod Cassimy: "Do you forgive him?"
Deborah Hayes: "Yes, I do forgive him."

Wallace has been hospitalized for burns he sustained after he ended up setting the woman's car dashboard on fire. He is expected to be okay.

While police wouldn't discuss a motive, the victim says she thinks she was attacked because she didn't want to date Wallace. Police did find Wallace in an abandoned building about 2 blocks from his home. He's also facing charges for attempted malicious wounding, assault and battery and property damage for the crime.

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