Woman set on fire in ‘gruesome’ park attack will ‘never have the face she was born with’

·3-min read
Alyssa Morales has been placed in a medically induced coma since the attack  (Go Fund Me)
Alyssa Morales has been placed in a medically induced coma since the attack (Go Fund Me)

A woman set on fire in a US park attack will “never have the face she was born with”, her family says.

Alyssa Morales, 36, was the victim of the “gruesome” attack in a Philadelphia park just before midnight on Thursday, 16 June.

Ms Morales sustained second and third-degree burns over more than half of her body and now faces months of rehabilitation and skin grafts, a fundraiser set up by a family friend explained.

Emergency services were responding to reports of a rubbish fire in Harrowgate Park when they found Ms Morales set alight, 6ABC reported. She was rushed to Temple University Hospital and is currently in a medically induced coma.

“She was in too much pain to identify herself when she arrived at the hospital, and was listed as a Jane Doe for two days before her family was able to see her,” the fundraising page said.

According to the page, Ms Morales, known as “Bre”, had been struggling with drug addiction for 14 years and was homeless at the time. In 2020 she was interviewed about her life by a YouTube filmmaker.

“She has tried to get clean several times, but still hasn’t been able to conquer her demons,” the page said. “Even in the darkest days of her addiction, Alyssa would never physically harm anyone but herself.”

“No matter what people may think of those who battle addiction, no human being should ever have to endure what Alyssa has endured. No one should have to deal with the struggles that lie ahead for her. It's going to be a long, hard road to recovery. and Alyssa will never be the same again.

Video of the incident circulated on social media showing Ms Morales on the ground on fire as several onlookers approached. She could be heard moaning in pain, lying face down.

One person can be heard on the phone to emergency services. “Somebody set her on fire, she’s got blood, burnt, she’s bleeding a whole lot – please hurry up,” he says.

Ms Morales’ mother, Leah Ann Morales, confirmed to CBS News it was her daughter in the video.

“I watched the first three seconds when I knew it was her and I couldn’t watch anymore,” she said. “You know it’s your daughter, and you know she’s burned, and then you’re just like, ‘She needs help, can somebody help her?’ And I found out on the internet.”

Leah Ann told CBS her daughter would live but “she’ll have permanent damage”.

“I’m saying it, she’ll never have the face she was born with, and they said that’s the hard part when she can look in the mirror and see a different face looking back at her.”

Police are reviewing surveillance video and trying to track down eyewitnesses. They are asking anyone with information to come forward.

Police on Wednesday said the attack was believed to have occurred during a suspected argument. Witnesses told police that Ms Morales was in the park with an unidentified man when they began arguing with another woman, who then poured flammable liquid on Ms Morales and set her on fire.

“The one girl backs up and extends her arm and one person just ignites,” an unidentified witness told FOX29 Philadelphia. “It was huge.”

Ms Morales’ GoFund Me campaign has raised $14,060 and received over 370 donations so far.