A Philadelphia man suffered severe burns after police say men abducted him, tied him up, and lit him ablaze inside his car after failing to get a $10,000 ransom from his family for his safe return.
The 34-year-old victim was grabbed by three men as he left his job in the city's Wissinoming section around 11:30 p.m. Sunday, police Capt. Mark Burgmann of the Special Victims Unit said Monday.
The men — who were all armed with guns — zip-tied his hands behind his back and put him in the back seat of his Pontiac, Burgmann said.
The victim was driven around for about five hours as the men contacted his family using his phone to demand $10,000.
Around 5:30 a.m. Monday, the men drove to the Westford Road near Geneva Avenue in the Olney neighborhood. There, they poured gasoline on the lower half of the victim's body, set him on fire, and left.
Breaking news and the stories that matter to your neighborhood.
Neighbors heard the man's screams and ran from their homes to help him. One homeowner was able to pull him from the car, which by then was also engulfed in flames, and put him to the ground to try and stomp out the fire.
"You could see the the white flesh, like pretty bad," neighbor Larry Bennett said.
Paramedics rushed the victim to Temple University Hospital's Burn Center for treatment. He suffered 2nd and 3rd degree burns to 50-percent of his body, Burgmann said. He remains hospitalized in critical condition.
Burgmann said the family apparently was in communication with the men and called police, but it's still unclear why they chose to attack him in the first place. The victim works at a company that provides assistance for people with special needs.
"It's a horrific crime and it seems pretty personal," Burgmann said, adding that detectives believe he was targeted.
Responding officers were able to speak to the victim on the way to the hospital and get some information about what happened. But since then, they have been unable to speak with him because of his condition, Burgmann said.
Detectives are interviewing the man's family and looking for surveillance video that may show the men involved.