North Carolina man accused of setting woman on fire

The interim police chief of Kinston says that there doesn't yet appear to be any relationship between the suspect and the woman set on fire.

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By Phil Helsel

A North Carolina man accused of dousing a woman with a flammable liquid and setting her on fire while she was in her car has been charged with attempted murder, officials said.

It was not known if the suspect, Venice Taylor, 41, who was arrested Monday evening, knows the woman he attacked, local media outlets reported.

"It appears at this time that there is no relation whatsoever between those two. It does appear to be a random act," Interim Kinston Police Chief Tim Dilday said, according to CBS affiliate WNCT of Greenville.

This booking photo provided by Kinston Police Department shows Venice Taylor of Jacksonville, NC. Kinston Police Department via AP

The incident happened sometime before 10:52 a.m. in Kinston, N.C., when an officer was flagged down by a bystander and found the 24-year-old woman with severe burns, police said.

Police said she suffered severe burns to her upper body, and she was reported to be in critical condition at a hospital burn unit Tuesday.

Taylor was arrested Monday evening after a traffic stop on charges of attempted murder, malicious maiming and other counts, police said in a statement.

He appeared in court Tuesday and was to be assigned a court-appointed attorney, NBC affiliate WITN reported, and is being held in lieu of $2 million bail. It was not immediately clear Tuesday night who that attorney is.

A bystander, Kenyari Fields, told WITN Monday that "it was just a very eerie situation," and that he heard screams during the attack.

About an hour before the officer was flagged down Monday morning, police believe Taylor forced his way into a home of a relative and tried to set a fire inside. No one was home, and the fire extinguished itself before the resident returned, police said. WITN reported that the fire was set at Taylor's mother's home.