Woman Says Ex-Boyfriend Set Her On Fire
Sandra Ladd suffered thru unimaginable injuries the last months of her life.
Sandra’s sister, Sharon Panis, says Sandra’s boyfriend and the father of her two children, James Stafford is responsible.
They were separated when Sandra went to visit him in Batesville July 4th 2011.
“He grabbed the gasoline can and she screamed. He poured it on her and said to her, ‘see if you stay as pretty,” said Panis. “He poured the gasoline on her and set her on fire.”
Sandra put out the flames, but had to wait until Stafford was asleep to escape.
“I just said to myself, God help me. God help me. God help me.”
“She grabbed the knife and stabbed him 2 or 3 times.”
Sandra ended up in the hospital.
Chelsea is her daughter.
“The only thing I thought of it was my fault,” she said. “If I could have done this, maybe she would have lived.”
On November 11, 2011, Sandra died, her lungs scorched from the burns.
James Stafford was set free. He now lives in Sledge, Mississippi and says he is innocent.
“April Thompson: We have pictures of her where she is burned. You said you had nothing to do with that?
James Stafford: I did not.
April Thompson: What happened?
James Stafford: She did get burned up. Some of her friends came to see her and did this to her, her gang friends.”
He claims Sandra’s gang friends came to the house in masks and attacked her.
“They took her and set her on fire, poured gasoline on her and set her on fire,” Stafford says.
He says Sandra wouldn’t let him call police because she had been taking met.
He says he is the victim, too. He showed News Channel 3 where Sandra stabbed him.
Stafford admits he and Sandra had a history of violence, but he says he is not guilty of this crime. He showed us a copy of a sheriff’s department statement Sandra gave after the attack. It doesn’t say James Stafford set the fire.
“She says he got mad and started hitting her and someone set her on fire,” Sandra Ladd says.
Sandra’s family says before she died, Sandra did name James as her attacker and even filled out a police report.
“Our understanding, the grand jury says there was enough evidence to go to trial. How is it the Cleveland, MS District Attorney says she’s not here to defend herself so this is as far as it goes?”
D.A. Brenda Mitchell hung up on us when we asked about the case. We then received an email saying “the records are exempt from the Public Records Act and won’t be released.”
The county prosecutor refuses to talk. The Quitman County Sheriff says we can’t see any of the case files.
The one document we could get, an October 9, 2012 judge’s ruling, says that since James Stafford had been in jail for more than a year and no action had been taken by a grand jury, the charges against him are dismissed.
Sandra Ladd’s family isn’t giving up. A section of the order for Stafford’s release also says if additional evidence develops linking him to Sandra’s death, the state is free to pursue charges.