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Burn Victim Dies After Saying He Was Set Afire in Attack

September 28, 1993

LOVELAND, Ohio (AP) _ A man who said he was doused with gasoline and set on fire by two stranded motorists he tried to help died over the weekend as police investigated whether his story is true.

Police Chief Howard Espelage said it was possible Milton Metcalfe accidentally set himself on fire, then lied about what happened. Police have not been able to find any assailants.

″It’s a possibility that it may not have happened as he said,″ Espelage said Monday. ″At this point, it’s all supposition. ... We do have some progress, but I can’t release it.″

Metcalfe, 30, who suffered burns over 75 percent of his body, died at a hospital Sunday.

He told police he was attacked early last Tuesday when he tried to help two men and a woman start their stalled pickup near his home in this Cincinnati suburb.

He said he went home to get a gasoline can, bought gas and returned. One of the men, he said, splashed him with gasoline and the other threw a lighted match at him.

Because Metcalfe was black and claimed his assailants were whites, the case drew comparisons to the New Year’s Day attack on Christopher Wilson, a black man who was abducted by three white men in suburban Tampa, sprinkled with gasoline and set afire. Wilson survived and two of the men were convicted.

The Cincinnati chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People suggested Metcalfe might have been the victim of a copycat crime.

In April, Metcalfe was convicted of making a false report after he told police that two men kidnapped him at knifepoint. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail.

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