Man set wife on fire after dousing her in lighter fluid: prosecutors

Luevenia Gardner took off her burning clothes and jumped into a shower to put out the flames before running two blocks to a South Side firehouse on April 16, prosecutors said. She died a month later.

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A woman ran to the Engine 81 firehouse at 10458 S. Hoxie Ave. and claimed a man poured gasoline on her and lit her on fire. She died a month later.

A woman ran to the Engine 81 firehouse at 10458 S. Hoxie Ave. and claimed a man poured gasoline on her and lit her on fire. She died a month later.

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After a South Deering man set his wife on fire, the badly burned woman jumped into the shower and ran to a nearby Chicago Fire station for help, Cook County prosecutors said Friday.

Luevenia Gardner’s skin had melted over her fingernails and the plastic in her hair extensions had fused her skin, a CFD member noticed after he let Gardner inside the Engine 81 firehouse on April 16, Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said.

She suffered second- and third-degree burns to more than 70% of her body, Murphy said.

Gardner allegedly told firefighters that she knew her husband, Henry Taylor, would try to kill her and that she “should have left him a long time ago,” Murphy said. She also asked the firefighters if she was going to die.

She did a little more than a month later on May 21 at the University of Chicago Medical Center where she had undergone skin graft surgery.

Taylor, 31, was ordered held without bail Friday for Gardner’s murder.

Judge Susana Ortiz called Taylor’s alleged actions “brutal and heinous.”

Taylor allegedly admitted he sprayed Gardner with lighter fluid then flicked a lighter at her.

Gardner took her burning clothes off and jumped into the shower to put out the flames before running two blocks and pounding on the door of the firehouse at 10458 S. Hoxie Ave., Murphy said.

Hours after setting his wife on fire, Taylor called Gardner’s family and told them what he had done, Murphy said.

Taylor turned himself in on Wednesday and repeated his alleged admissions during a videotaped interview. He told police that “he wasn’t even that close to her, and she went up in flames,” Murphy said.

Autopsy results are pending at the medical examiner’s office.

Taylor ran a business with his wife, an assistant public defender told Ortiz.

Taylor is expected back in court June 15.

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