Society

Kansas Police Arrest Man For Allegedly Raping, Beating And Setting Fire To Woman

| by Jared Keever

A Kansas woman who was found raped, beaten and set on fire in a Wichita park has died from her injuries, police said Saturday.

The unnamed victim was found Nov. 14 as area firefighters responded to a late-night grass fire in the park. She was taken to the hospital and remained there until she died Saturday morning. 

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The Associated Press reports that on Friday police arrested and charged 26-year-old Cornell A. McNeal with attempted capital murder and rape in the attack. He was also charged with two counts of arson. One count was for the fire he allegedly set in the park, the other is for a fire police say he set in a garage earlier that day, according to KAKE.

Wichita police Lt. James Espinoza told the The Wichita Eagle that the charges against McNeal will be amended to include murder. 

Police said forensic evidence from the crime scene led them to the alleged perpetrator. They described McNeal’s initial interaction with the victim as a “random encounter” in the park.

Court records show that McNeal has a criminal history and has had restraining orders filed against him in the past. 

One of those orders was requested by Tonya Mathis, the grandmother of his child. 

Mathis told KWCH that after her daughter and McNeal broke up he kept “harassing” the family. 

She said he would show up at her house late at night.

“He looked like he was drunk or something and he kept throwing my kids toys out in the street and stuff and causing a ruckus, so I had to call the police on him,” Mathis said. 

“My daughter had to hit him with a shovel one time because he came over there and was trying to harass her,” she said, describing another incident. 

Police said that the victim from the park was not connected to any of the previous restraining orders. 

McNeal has requested a court-appointed attorney and is being held on $250,000 bond. His next court hearing is scheduled for Dec. 4. 

Sources: New York Daily News (AP Story), KAKE, The Wichita Eagle, KWCH / Photo Credit: Travis Heying/The Wichita Eagle, Sedgwick County Jail/The Wichita Eagle