A Volusia County, Florida jury found a man guilty of murder and arson on Thursday, for the 2017 killing of a woman he set on fire.
Bernard Thomas was sentenced to a mandatory life sentence for first-degree murder and consecutive 30-year sentences for first-degree arson of a dwelling and first-degree arson of a vehicle.
The Volusia County State Attorney R.J. Larizza’s office said in a release that on Aug. 27, 2017, Tracy Adams ran inside of her Deland, Florida, home screaming, “Bernard tried to kill [me]” to her children.
Adams was on fire as she ran, and when investigators arrived on the scene, they found her car was engulfed with flames spreading to the roof of her home.
A further investigation discovered that a bottle recovered as evidence at the scene was filled with gasoline and thrown at Adams as she sat in her car.
As a result, she suffered serious burns, was shot in the shoulder, and died of complications from the burns weeks later.
Thomas lived on the property in a gazebo for about a year, the release read, and was a close friend of her family.
The investigation into the incident included cell phone tower mapping, which ultimately place Thomas at the crime scene.
His call log also showed more than 30 calls to Adams in a seven-day period, according to the release, though none were made to her after she was set on fire and sent to the hospital.
Thomas fled the county and was eventually arrested and charged for his crimes.
“The brutal nature of this crime shocks me,” Larizza said. “This murder was the act of a depraved and vicious man. His cruelty knows no bounds.”