Family describes relationship after woman set on fire

- Details emerged Wednesday from the grisly scene in St. Petersburg, where a woman was set on fire inside her home the night before. Police say her boyfriend may have done it.

Now, her family is describing how it happened.

Sheron Pasco has third-degree burns covering much of her body. She is unable to talk to police about what happened that night. But her uncle, who lives with the couple, says physical violence between the two has been an issue for months.

Earnest Neal said the horrific image of his niece's flesh burning has played over and over in his head.

"Her face was real dark. You could see the skin where the fire has shrunk her eyes. She was real dark,” Neal said.

He pushed 37-year-old Sheron Pasco into the bathtub to dowse the flames that covered her body, from her face to her waist.

He shared his home with Pasco and her boyfriend, 37-year-old John Riggins, who is now being questioned possibly setting her on fire.

"I didn't think he'd do something like that," Neal told FOX 13 News.

Neal says earlier in the day, he saw Riggins bring a gas can from his lawnmower into the bedroom. But only Riggins and Pasco were in their room Tuesday night when she caught fire, after being covered in gasoline.

Moments before, Neal said Pasco was screaming in agony. Then he heard yelling of another kind - it was the couple arguing.

"About being faithful and unfaithful. He was accusing her of cheating on him and lying to him," Neal said, adding fidelity was something they fought about before. "He's put his hands on her in the past. I know he did. That's why I told him he had to go."

Riggins’ criminal history shows multiple charges of domestic violence, including strangulation in 2014.
He was also charged with arson in 2012.

Pasco too faced a domestic battery charge in her past.

"Sometimes she would hit him and he wouldn't hit her back," Neal said.

Riggins was found hiding in an abandoned house next door, nearly three hours after his girlfriend was airlifted to the hospital in critical condition. He had burn marks on his arms and was taken to Tampa General.

Riggins has not been arrested or charged.

Meanwhile, a woman in Bradenton, who was hit in the head with a hammer set on fire by her estranged husband in November of 2009, is now working to help women make it out of abusive situations alive.

Amazingly, Audrey Mabrey survived the attack, but it took years of surgery and physical therapy to recover. She says there are warning signs anyone in a possibly toxic relationship should look for, but it's not always as simple as just walking away.

"Anyone is capable of anything. And then there are some signs to look for,” Mabry explained. “One of the biggest signs we see is when the abuser is threatening suicide. It has to only make sense in your mind, if someone is willing to take their own life and they have nothing to lose in their mind."

Mabrey says women looking to get out of a dangerous relationship need to create a game plan before leaving - having important documents packed and even code words with family or friends to let them know when you need help.

WATCH: Domestic violence, burn survivor now helps others get help

She's currently working with a group called Break The Silence On Domestic Violence, which has an upcoming Angel run, raising money and awareness for women who did not make it out safely.  Participants will walk 22 miles in 22 days, in an effort  to raise $2,200. For more information on the run, visit: http://www.breakthesilencedv.org/get-involved/angelrun/.

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