A woman’s family is seeking answers and calling for justice after she was set on fire last week inside a park in Kensington.
Firefighters found 36-year-old Alyssa Morales with severe burns on a large portion of her body just after 12:30 a.m. Friday, June 17, at Harrowgate Park, near the Market-Frankford Line’s Tioga station.
Morales remains hospitalized, on a ventilator and in a medically-induced coma, according to a widely shared Facebook message posted by her mother, Lee Ann Morales.
“Tragedy is nothing new for my family, unfortunately,” Kylil Morales, Alyssa’s 29-year-old brother who lives in Florida, told Metro. “But this is something I refuse to stand for. And if I have to come up there to Philly, I will never stop until I’m the one arrested.”
A witness saw two women and a man arguing in the park before one of the women sprayed “some sort of liquid” on Alyssa and the man and ignited the pair, Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Frank Vanore said Wednesday.
Information gathered by investigators indicates the man was also set on fire, but he ran from the scene, and police have not identified him, Vanore said.
A video circulating on social media shows Alyssa hunched over after having removed some of her clothing as people call for help.
“When the fire department comes, they’re not even aware that a person is being burned,” Vanore told reporters. “They thought it was a trash fire.”
“I am angry. So angry,” her mother wrote on Facebook. “So angry that anyone would do something so horrific to another human being. Angry and worried that no one will work hard to find the people who did this to her because of how she lived.”
Alyssa, who has been living on the streets in Kensington, has been battling a heroin addiction for more than a decade, family members said.
Her struggles have been documented on a YouTube channel, AML Films, that includes interviews with people addicted to drugs in Kensington. Kylil said the family has kept tabs on her through the videos, which refer to Alyssa as “Bre.”
Kylil said he and his siblings were raised in Levittown, Bucks County, but he and Lee Ann moved to Florida several years ago.
Lee Ann is raising Alyssa’s 7-year-old daughter, Tulah, and caring for Kylil’s twin brother, Kyleaf, who has disabilities.
A GoFundMe account for the family raised more than $12,000 in one day, and organizers said the money will go toward helping Lee Ann travel back and forth to Philadelphia.
Alyssa is expected to spend months in the hospital, undergo multiple skin graft procedures and have to relearn basic tasks, according to the fundraising page.