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11-Year-Old Boy Abducted, Set Ablaze

March 8, 1990

NEW YORK (AP) _ An 11-year-old boy on his way to school was abducted, beaten and set on fire Wednesday by a man who tried to force him to smoke crack, authorities and witnesses said.

The child, whose name was not released, was in critical but stable condition with second- and third-degree burns over 55 percent of his body at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center’s burn unit, said hospital spokeswoman Myrna Manners.

″His injuries are life-threatening,″ Manners said. ″We’re saying he has a 50-50 chance.″ She said the boy was conscious and talking.

″Right now, we don’t have a motive,″ said detective Lt. Charles Monahan. ″We may be dealing with just a psycho.″

Police believe the boy’s attacker was a lone teen-ager who approached the child as he walked to school in the borough of Brooklyn and forced him into a small garage between two private homes.

Inside the garage, which had been converted into a clubhouse, the child was tied up and beaten before flammable liquid was poured on him and he was set on fire, police said.

Fire Department spokesman Efrain Parrilla said the assault appeared to have been drug-related, but Monahan said, ″At this point, we don’t have anything to substantiate that.″

However, The New York Times reported in Thursday editions that the assailant was a man in his 20s, possibly deranged, who is known to extort money from children in the area.

The burning child managed to flee the garage around 10:15 a.m., and run to a small auto-body shop about a block away, where workers called the police and fire departments.

The boy, whose 12th birthday is Thursday, told the workers his attacker had tried to force him to smoke crack, the Times said, attributing the information to police.

Mechanic Jean Victor, 28, told the Times the boy ″said the guy started smoking crack and said, ‘Do you want some?’ He said he did not smoke crack. The guy knocked him down, poured gasoline on him and burned him.″

The garage is about six blocks from the boy’s home.

The boy’s mother said her son left their apartment around 7 a.m. to wait for a school bus, as he did every morning.

The boy’s family emigrated from Port-an-Prince, Haiti, a year ago, and the boy speaks little English, the mother said.

Update hourly