A Louisiana woman was the victim of a horrific attack during which she was reportedly set on fire and had her car defiled with the letters "KKK," police reported Monday.
Sharmeka Moffitt, a 20-year-old African-American woman, made an emergency call to police on Sunday night claiming three men wearing white hoods or hats attacked her, doused her with flammable liquid and set her on fire at a park in Winnsboro, La., CBS News reports. Moffitt, who said she was unable to identify the race of her attackers, was able to extinguish the fire with a water spigot before police arrived.
Officers found the letters "KKK," an apparent reference to the Ku Klux Klan, written on the hood of her car, according to CBS News. "KKK" was smeared on her hood in a paste-like substance.
Franklin Parish Sheriff Kevin Cobb confirmed that "KKK" was written on the hood of Moffitt's car with a racial slur underneath, WMBF News reports.
Moffitt is currently in critical condition at LSU Medical Center in Shreveport, according to the station. "Both of her arms, and they are third degree burns, down her chest and legs - one. Basically her arms are real bad," her mother, Edna, told the media. Edna also denied initial reports that claimed her daughter was wearing an Obama T-shirt at the time of the attack.
Police currently have no suspects or motives in the attack, which occurred while Moffitt was walking on a paved trail in Civitan Park on Sunday at about 8 p.m., according to The News Star. Authorities do not know if the attack was planned or random but called the racial connotations "unsettling."
“My hope is we’ll all stand together while we determine the facts,” Cobb told The News Star. “I’m asking the community to trust us to do the right thing."
The attack on Moffitt caught the nation's attention after a Facebook page, entitled,"Prayers for Sharmeka Moffitt," was created. The page currently has more than 30,000 likes.
UPDATE: 6:19 p.m. -- The News Star reported Tuesday afternoon that police now believe Moffitt's story about being attacked was fabricated. Police now believe that she wrote "KKK" and "n---er" on her car and lit herself on fire.
The Franklin Sun reports that Moffitt's fingerprints were found on the cigarette lighterand lighter fluid recovered in the wooded area near the crime scene. The writings on the car, written in toothpaste, were linked to female DNA.
Police Chief Lester Thomas said that regardless of the outcome, this tragic event is still a heavy burden, according to The Franklin Star. Sheriff Cobb added: "Although I think what she did was wrong and had major consequences not only for her, but throughout our community and our country. There's something wrong here, and we need to help individuals like this. In the same way our community came to support her as a victim, I still hope the community will support her emotional and physical recovery."
Police Investigators: Louisiana Woman Lied About Burn Injuries, Wounds Self-Inflicted
As previously reported by NewsOne, Moffitt was walking in a park at around 8 p.m. when she claimed the incident occurred. Because of initial reports, speculation was rampant on social media that it was hate crime committed by the Ku Klux Klan because Moffitt was wearing a shirt in support of President Barack Obama.
All of it was false.
The Franklin Sun reports:
After analyzing the evidence at the State Police Crime Lab, it was discovered Moffitt’s fingerprints were on the cigarette lighter and the lighter fluid recovered near the wooded area around the crime scene.
“There is more physical evidence along those lines that back this up,” Thomas said.
At a news conference held at LSU Medical Center on Monday evening, Moffitt’s mother, Edna Moffitt said her daughter was in critical condition with third-degree burns on her arms and other areas and would undergo surgery Tuesday.
False rumors regarding the incident were spread on various social media outlets Sunday night just hours after the incident took place. On many of the Twitter and Facebook posts, users speculated the attack was a hate crime and Moffitt was attacked for wearing a President Obama t-shirt when she was “raped and burned alive”.
Moffitt’s mother and Thomas confirmed Monday that the Obama T-shirt rumor was false and there was no evidence of sexual assault.
A racial slur and the letters, KKK, that were written in toothpaste on Moffitt’s vehicle were linked to female DNA, authorities said.
“All of the evidence is pointing back to the victim inflicting this upon herself,” Thomas said. “No evidence has shown any other person was involved.”
“This case is solved,” Thomas added.
Franklin Parish Sheriff, Kevin Cobb, said that the town has remained united through the incident and they need to remain supportive:
“I want to thank the community, who under these stressful times they allowed law enforcement to do their job to seek information, collect evidence and follow the facts,” Cobb said. “Although I think what she did was wrong and had major consequences not only for her, but throughout our community and our country. There’s something wrong here, and we need to help individuals like this. In the same way our community came to support her as a victim, I still hope the community will support her emotional and physical recovery.”
No charges have been filed against Moffitt. The Sun reports that the case has been turned over to the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.
In a state with a history of unspeakable acts of violence against Black citizens, Moffitt’s claims were especially dangerous. Hopefully, the band-aid she has ripped off the racial tension in the town of Winnsboro does not cause any more conflict.
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