Vanessa Danielson’s downstairs neighbor was jolted awake by the sounds of her cries for help as her boyfriend doused her bed with gasoline and set it ablaze Thursday morning, authorities said.
Moments before, the 36-year-old had been sleeping when she awoke on fire, according to a newly-filed criminal complaint. She ran out of the two-story duplex and was met by the neighbor, who threw a blanket over her and smothered the flames.
She died a short time later at a nearby hospital.
Friday, the boyfriend, Wyndale Fayson, 32, of Minneapolis, was charged with second-degree murder, according to the complaint. No first appearance has been scheduled because Fayson remains hospitalized with serious burns.
Charges say it was Fayson’s second threatening visit that morning to the apartment in the 2900 block of Taylor Street Northeast. Danielson called police at about 2:45 a.m. Thursday and told police that Fayson had come to her apartment and became angry. Fayson grabbed her cellphone and smashed it and told her he would kill her by setting the place on fire. Fayson was gone when police arrived.
About 6:41 a.m., police again were sent to the same address on a report of a woman screaming. When they arrived, they saw the upstairs apartment on fire and the victim lying in the yard in front, badly burned. En route to the hospital, she told paramedics that she woke up on fire in bed and told another neighbor, who held her hand while waiting for paramedics, that “Wyndale,” is the one who set her on fire, according to the complaint.
Police found Fayson on his hands and knees about three blocks away. He was screaming in pain from severe burns to his body and was heard saying he should not have gone back to the house, charges said.
Dawn Aherns lives with her fiancé, Jeff Peterson, two doors down. She was there when Danielson stumbled across the street, severely burned.
Danielson was awake and conscious. She told Aherns that her ex-boyfriend had set her on fire.
“She kept saying, ‘Help me! When are they [the ambulance] going to get here? Pray for me,’ ” Aherns said.
She said she held Danielson’s hands for what “felt like an eternity” until paramedics arrived.
“I honest to god didn’t expect her to die,” Aherns said.
“My sister’s death was caused by a horrible predator,” Matt Danielson, Vanessa’s brother, said Thursday night. “She had multiple sclerosis. ... She was only about 80 pounds soaking wet. She was weak physically and mentally and didn’t have the ability to keep these monsters out of her life.
“My family and I did everything we could to help her, but people like this guy prey on weak people like her,” he said.
Officers have been to Danielson’s home multiple times on domestic calls dating to May 2016, according to police reports.