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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Memphis man is locked up Thursday, accused of setting his girlfriend on fire. 

Kenneth Upshaw

Kenneth Upshaw is charged with attempted second-degree murder after the alleged incident on Oct. 8 at an East Memphis home. 

The woman is in the Regional Medical Center’s burn unit now, in fair condition. She has what’s described as second-degree to deep second-degree burns to her face, neck, chest, and arms.

Police say she was standing near a vehicle in the driveway of a house on Benna Cove in the Sea Isle area when she told Upshaw that she was breaking up with him.

Upshaw allegedly told her if he couldn’t be with her, no one could. Police say he splashed her with gasoline, then threw a lit cigarette at her and set her on fire.

The couple does not live at the house where this happened. The homeowner said Upshaw had been there earlier in the day, but he didn’t know anything about what was happening outside until someone told him a car was on fire in his driveway. 

He said he and a friend put the fire out.

“It was pretty bad. I mean, it burned the whole back end and part of the back driver’s side and started to get where the gas tank is, and I thought it was going to explode,” said the man who didn’t want to be identified.

The couple have a child together and a long history of domestic violence, according to court records. Police said in 2019 Upshaw hit punched the same girlfriend in the stomach so hard she had an emergency c-section and delivered their baby a month early.

The victim’s relatives said the woman has a long road to recovery.