SHREVEPORT, La. (The News Star) - The family of a Winnsboro woman set afire by unidentified assailants while she walked on a park trail say they are shocked by the viciousness of the crime and possible racial motivations behind it.
Edna Moffitt said her daughter, Sharmeka, 20, was exercising alone at Civitan Park when she was attacked by three men wearing hoodies. The words "KKK" and "nigger" were on her car in white, said Sharmeka Moffitt's sister, Michelle. Both women said they were unsure why someone would want to hurt the daughter and sister they described as a good person, who is very fun, outgoing and energetic.
"To my knowledge, she has never been threatened," said Edna Moffitt as she softly cried and wiped tears from her face during a Monday afternoon news conference at LSU Hospital in Shreveport. "I have never known anything like this to happen in Winnsboro."
Sharmeka Moffitt remains in critical condition with burns over 60-percent of her body. She has third-degree burns on her arms and other areas and will undergo surgery Tuesday, her mother said.
"They want to take the dead skin off and place other skin there if they can," said Edna Moffitt, who added her daughter also would undergo a biopsy.
Sharmeka Moffitt was attacked at about 8 p.m. Sunday as she walked on a park trail. Moffitt, who called 911 to report the incident, had gone to the park to "walk a mile and run a mile," Michelle Moffitt said.
"She called 911, then she called me," Michelle Moffitt said. "She said she had been burned, she had been set on fire."
Michelle Moffitt said she first thought Sharmeka Moffitt was joking but soon realized her sister wouldn't wisecrack about something so serious. Sharmeka Moffitt was "hollering" and "screaming" when she first called but after awhile the conversation became bleak, Michelle Moffitt said.
"I stayed on the phone until I got (to the park) even though she wasn't able to say anything," Michelle Moffitt said.
Authorities have made no arrests and no suspects have been identified.
The Winnsboro Police Department, Franklin Parish Sheriff's Office, Louisiana State Police, Louisiana Fire Marshal and the FBI are investigating and will later determine if the attack could be classified as a hate crime.
"I have no idea who did it... I want them to pay for what they did to her," Edna Moffitt said.