Woman critical after Bedford fire

Posted on 20 May 2010 at 7:22pm
By TAMMYE NASH | Senior Editor nash@dallasvoice.com

Estranged girlfriend charged with arson, could face other charges as investigation continues, police say

Olufunke Whitehead

BEDFORD — An Irving woman has been charged with arson of a habitation in connection with a fire early Tuesday morning, May 18, that left her estranged girlfriend hospitalized.

Media reports published Wednesday, May 19, indicated that Ronna Faris was in critical condition at Parkland Memorial Hospital, with second- and third-degree burns over 63 percent of her body. A Parkland spokeswoman said Thursday afternoon, May 20, that the hospital was not releasing any more information on Faris at the request of her family.

Police reports indicated that Faris had been doused in gasoline and set on fire.

Bedford Police Lt. Kirk Roberts said Thursday that the investigation into the fire is ongoing, and that Olufunke Whitehead, 42, could face additional charges depending on information investigators might unearth.

“We’re still early in the investigation. There could be additional charges presented, including aggravated assault and up to capital murder, depending on what happens with [Faris],” Roberts said.

Arson of a habitation is a first-degree felony, Roberts said.

Roberts said Bedford police and fire department units were dispatched around 3:45 a.m. Tuesday to the home Faris shared with her elderly parents in the 1000 block of Woodland Terrace in Bedford. Emergency responders found Faris and her parents — both of whom use walkers to get around — in the front yard.

Neither of her parents were injured in the blaze, and Oscar Faris, 80, told authorities he and his wife were able to escape from the house after being alerted by their daughter’s screams.

Roberts said Faris did make a comment to authorities at that time indicating that Whitehead was the one that had poured the gasoline on her and set her on fire.

Why Whitehead did it however, “is still one of the big questions” in the investigation, Roberts said.

Roberts also said that police are still uncertain about the exact nature of the relationship between Whitehead and Ronna Faris.

“I don’t know the extent of their relationship, but I do believe they have referred to each other as girlfriends,” he said. “But I don’t think they ever lived together.”

Roberts said that Whitehead was arrested Tuesday afternoon, “near or at her place of employment” near Beltline Road and Hwy. 635, close to the border between Irving and Coppell. Whitehead was released Wednesday afternoon on $25,000 bond, he said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 21, 2010.

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