Second suspect sought in burning of man
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State police are searching for a second suspect after a Homestead woman was arrested this week for kidnapping and attempting to kill a man who said he helped her purchase cocaine that would not cook properly.
Marlena Jones, 34, was charged with attempted homicide and taken to the Indiana County Jail, where District Judge Jennifer Rega ordered her held on $500,000 bond.
State police in Indiana began investigating after Thomas Pierce III, 19, of Farrell, told troopers that Ms. Jones and another man stripped, bound and kidnapped him, and then lit him on fire.
The saga began when Mr. Pierce and another man rode with Ms. Jones to Pittsburgh to buy cocaine Monday evening, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed by state police. Mr. Pierce directed Ms. Jones and the man to a drug dealer from whom they purchased what appeared to be cocaine, the affidavit said.
Ms. Jones and the other man, whom police have yet to identify or find, then attempted to cook the cocaine.
When the cocaine would not cook, Ms. Jones and the unidentified man became angry at Mr. Pierce, seized his cell phone, drove him to an apartment in Homestead and stripped him of most of his clothing. They covered his mouth, neck, wrists and ankles with duct tape, and forced him into a laundry basket, according to the affidavit.
Mr. Pierce told police that Ms. Jones and the other man then drove him to Route 286, where they pulled him out of the laundry basket and poured lighter fluid on him. He said Ms. Jones then tried to shoot him with a handgun but failed because the gun malfunctioned.
The assailants then lit Mr. Pierce on fire, according to the affidavit. He rolled on the ground to put out the fire and escaped his attackers, according to the affidavit and a state police news release.
A passer-by called state police, who called for medics to take Mr. Pierce to Indiana Hospital, where he was treated for a burn on his left arm, the press release said.
Troopers said they arrested Ms. Jones at her home in Homestead. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.
First Published July 19, 2012 12:00 am