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Police: Woman sprays roommate with gasoline, sets her ablaze

February 9, 1997

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ A woman upset over having to drive her drunken roommate home sprayed her friend with gasoline from a convenience store pump Sunday, then killed her by lighting the gas stream on fire, police said.

Nicole Dickens, 22, died after suffering third-degree burns over 98 percent of her body, said Joe DiLaura, a spokesman for Wishard Memorial Hospital.

Her roommate, Sherrell Russell, 26, was arrested and held on suspicion of murder, Marion County Sheriff’s Col. Scott Minier said.

Ms. Russell was angry because her roommate was intoxicated and had refused to drive her own car, Minier said.

``The suspect is generally the passenger and she was upset that she was asked to drive,″ he said. ``Her roommate apparently had had too much to drink.″

About 4 a.m., Ms. Russell asked a store clerk to call a cab for Ms. Dickens because she didn’t want to drive her back to their apartment, Minier said.

But minutes later, as Ms. Russell filled up the car’s gas tank, she aimed the pump at her roommate and ignited the stream of gas with a lighter, Minier said.

``It was basically like a flame-thrower, just a stream of fire,″ he said.

Ms. Russell was treated for burns on her hands.