Reward offered in search for man police said set woman on fire

Charleston police say they are seeking this man after a woman was set on fire Sunday on the West Side. (Charleston Police Department)

Charleston Mayor Danny Jones said a $2,500 reward will be offered for information leading to the arrest of a man police say they believe set a woman on fire.

“Somebody knows who it is, and we want somebody to come forward, and we will pay for it,” Jones said at a news conference Monday.

The news conference followed release of surveillance photos of a man they said they believed set the woman on fire.

“I’ve never quite seen anything like this where somebody so heinously set a homeless woman on fire,” the mayor said.

Flanked by Lt. Steve Cooper, chief of detectives, Charleston Police Chief Brent Webster and Kanawha County Prosecutor Chuck Miller, the mayor said he has never seen a case like this dating back to 33 years ago when he was Kanawha County sheriff.

Earlier on Monday, Charleston police released a photo of a man captured on surveillance video who they believe set a woman on fire.

Police said at an earlier news conference Monday they believe the man is homeless. The woman burned is in critical condition after being set on fire while she was sleeping on the porch Sunday of an empty home on Randolph Street in Charleston.

The woman was identified as Rachele Jarrett, 44, who police believe is homeless.

Police said shortly after the woman was set on fire, a man matching that suspect’s description kicked in a door to a home on Wyoming Street and poured gasoline on the floor and tried to light it. People in the home were able to chase the suspect away before he could start the fire.

Police said the man they believe set the fire had checked in at the Crossroads shelter. Anyone with information about the man’s identity or location is asked to contact police. People who provide information can remain anonymous.

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