By Tim Potter
Tribune News Service
WICHITA -- A woman who was sexually assaulted, struck on the head and set on fire at Fairmount Park suffered burns on 55 percent of her body and remains in critical condition, a Wichita police official said Monday.
Police aren't sure if it was a random or targeted crime, said police Capt. Troy Livingston.
Later Monday, he said hospital staff told him her condition had improved slightly.
At a briefing for reporters Monday, Livingston called it "a disgusting crime," pleaded for the public's help in providing information and stressed that any tip could help.
Police have been able to get only limited information from the woman, he said. A police report on the crime, released Monday morning, said the woman said she had been raped and burned by an unknown black male. That was the only description of the attacker provided in the report, and Livingston gave no information about any possible suspect.
Someone reported seeing a fire and hearing someone yell, the police report said.
"Our hearts go out to the victim. This is a tough deal," Livingston said.
"Somebody out there knows what happened, and we need that information."
He said he was limited in explanation he could give about the 36-year-old woman, including how she came to be in the park Friday night. Livingston said the crime, what he termed a sexual assault, aggravated battery and arson, occurred between 10:50 and 11:15 p.m. Friday. The park, in northeast Wichita, is just south of Wichita State University, and a school official has condemned the attack. Investigators are trying to determine whether some of the attack might have occurred outside the park.
Because of the seriousness of the woman's injuries, Livingston said, homicide detectives are investigating the attack.
Although police have knocked on doors throughout the neighborhood around the park and called in a number of people for interviews, "right now we have very little to go on," Livingston said.
Wichita police will be holding what they call an "impact meeting" about the crime in the near future, he said. Wichita police also will be working with WSU police and realize there is a concern for student safety, he said.
Someone saw the fire, and firefighters arrived to handle the fire, he said. While putting out the fire, they found the victim and notified police.
Although there have been other attacks fairly close to the park, those crimes were "vastly different," and there appears to be no connection to Friday's crime, Livingston said.