A Louisiana woman who claimed she was set on fire in a racially motivated attack on Sunday night is believed to have fabricated her story, according to local police.
Sharmeka Moffitt, a 20-year-old woman, claimed that three men in white hoodies attacked her while she was walking along a park trail in Winnsboro, La. on Sunday, dousing her in flammable liquid and setting her alight. Moffitt claimed her attackers also wrote racial slurs and telltale KKK initials on her car. Moffitt later managed to extinguish the flames herself and dial 911.
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Police, however, have come to the conclusion that things were not quite as they seemed. Moffitt’s fingerprints were found on the cigarette lighter and bottle of lighter fluid, leading authorities to believe that the alleged attack was actually self-inflicted. It is thought that Moffitt wrote the slurs and the clan’s initials in toothpaste herself.
“Basically we had to follow the facts,” the local sheriff told The News Star. “This was a disturbing case for all involved. All indications show this was a self-inflicted situation.”
Moffitt suffered third-degree burns and had to be moved to LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, La. Her family, meanwhile, is trying to come to terms with the latest revelations in the case. It is unclear why the 20-year-old, who has a young daughter, chose to set herself on fire. In an official statement, Moffitt’s family expressed thanks to the outpouring of public support they received:
Our family is devastated to learn the circumstances surrounding our daughter’s injuries. While this was not the resolution we had expected, it is a resolution, and we appreciate the thorough investigation by the local and state police as well as federal agencies.
Meanwhile, the president of the local branch of the NAACP, Otis Chisley, said that regardless of the outcome, racism and KKK activity still remains a part of life in the southern state whose past is tinged with the remnants of racial violence.
“It’s prevalent throughout Louisiana,” he told CBS News. “It’s hidden but it exists.”