Police: Woman set on fire by people she met online

March 15, 2012 9:50:32 AM PDT
A husband and wife, plus a family friend and a teenager, allegedly assaulted a woman they met online and set her on fire.

In a video posted on the victim's Facebook page, the 20-year-old can be seen with burns to her face and arms. In that video, the victim says she 'deserved the abuse' allegedly suffered at the hands of Michael and Tamara Rhoades, Steven Mills and a 14-year-old.

"This letter is to let everyone know that I hurt myself and that nobody did anything to me. Everything that's happened has been because of me. I brought this on myself," the victim said in the video.

However, police say, that confession was a coerced. In the background a man's voice can be heard telling the victim what she should say next.

"Now tell 'em about what you did, why we asked you to leave," the male voice says in the video.

Authorities say the 20-year-old victim met Michael and Tamara Rhoades online two years ago. Officials say they lured the victim from her home in Pittsburgh to live in their North Philadelphia row home.

Police say the three had a consensual sexual relationship but, several weeks ago, things began to go south.

Police say the suspects held the victim captive against her will, torturing her, pouring flammable liquids on her and then lighting her on fire.

The victim was able to put out the flames, but was badly burned. Her alleged captors put her on a bus back to Pittsburgh, but not before getting the taped confession they concocted.

"I started causing problems with the family and I threatened the kids and Tamara's family," the victim said in the video.

While serving a search warrant at the home, police say they found yet another victim, a 21-year-old, who also appeared to be bruised and battered and had also come to stay with the Rhoades after meeting them in an internet chat room.

Michael Rhoades, Tamara Rhoades, and Steve Mills are charged with attempted murder, arson, danger of death of bodily injury, and other related charges.

The juvenile is facing similar charges. A preliminary hearing has been set for May 9th.


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