Three accused in brutal burning attack on woman

Anita Pena, 37, (left) has been charged with aggravated kidnapping. Garrick Hastings, 25, (center) and Thomas Martin, 37, (right) have both been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
April 12, 2012 10:00:00 PM PDT
Three people are now in custody for the brutal attack of a woman last month. One of those suspects calls himself 'Joker,' but there's nothing funny about what he and two others are accused of doing to a woman who is now fighting for her life with burns over 80 percent of her body.

A woman is fighting for her life in Hermann Hospital after she was tied up, beaten and set on fire. The attack happened a couple of weeks ago but authorities have now arrested the three people they say are responsible.

Harris County Sheriff's deputies say the brutal attack on Melissa Burch, 29, was "heinous" and investigators say it happened at the hands of three people. One of those accused is 25-year-old Garrick Hastings, 25 -- aka, the 'Joker.'

"The tattoos on his face are representative of a clown face," explained Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Jason Brown. "That's where the nickname Joker applies."

Court records say Hastings told a witness Burch owed him $6,000. So, investigators say Hastings, Thomas Martin, 32, and Anita Pena, 37, confronted the victim and her boyfriend

"The boyfriend was able to escape," Deputy Brown explained. "The female was taken."

Authorities say Burch was then brought to an empty trailer in Channelview where the mother of three was tied up. Court records say she was beaten with a metal pipe and then Hastings and Martin set her on fire.

With burns on 80 percent of her body, investigators say the victim was somehow able to walk from the burning trailer then make it all the way to the neighbor's porch.

"I heard she was on fire," said neighbor Eric Russell. "They had to put her out. She was still duct taped."

Witnesses say while on that porch, blistering and smelling of gasoline, she knocked on the door, said "they did this to me" and then passed out.

Court records say Hastings later bragged about the attack, saying he'd killed her, but Burch survived. All three suspects were later arrested.

"The fact that she has been able to survive this long with such extensive burns is also amazing. It was a very brutal attack," Deputy Brown said.

The victim's mother is very afraid and emotional, so she didn't want to speak on camera, but she did say her daughter is still in a medically induced coma. Burch may lose some of her fingers and toes, and part of an arm.

Investigators say Hastings and Martin, who detectives identified as gang members, are charged with aggravated assault. Pena is charged with aggravated kidnapping. Bond for all three has been set at $100,000.


Load Comments