Vernal man charged with trying to light his girlfriend on fire

Vernal man charged with trying to light his girlfriend on fire

A Vernal man was charged Wednesday with attempted aggravated murder and accused of dousing his girlfriend with gasoline and trying to light her on fire. (Chinnapong, Shutterstock)

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

VERNAL — A Vernal man was charged Wednesday with pouring gasoline on his girlfriend and trying to light her on fire.

Elton Lin Wilcock, 57, is charged in 8th District Court with attempted aggravated murder, a first-degree felony; plus theft and harassment, class B misdemeanors.

On Friday, police say Wilcock’s girlfriend started to receive threatening text messages from Wilcock. Wilcock and the woman lived together but had gotten into an argument on Oct. 25 that became physical and the woman left to stay at a hotel on Main Street, according to a police booking affidavit.

The woman told police that on Friday, Wilcock “began texting and threatening her by calling her names and threatening to kill her,” the affidavit states. Police who reviewed some of the texts noted that “it appeared that the sole intent of the messages was to intimidate, abuse threaten, harass, and frighten. He continued calling her names and causing alarm. One of the text messages states, ‘If you only could understand how close we are to dieing TONIGHT,'” according to the affidavit.

At some point on Friday, there was a knock at the hotel door. Believing it was a family member, the woman opened it. Instead, she said it was Wilcock holding a giant mug full of gasoline. “He threw the gasoline on her and she stated, ‘He was trying to burn me,'” the affidavit alleges.

“He then violently attacked her, causing injuries, and tried to get her lighter to ignite the gasoline he had poured on her. During the attack, defendant held victim down on the bed and choked her, punched her, and stabbed her with his finger in her neck,” according to the charging documents.

The police affidavit further states that Wilcock “held her down on the bed and he choked her out. She advised me that he was punching her in the throat and stabbing her with his finger trying to take out her voice box.”

The next day, after Wilcock and the woman had left, the hotel manager called police. A responding officer went to the room where the woman was staying and noted “a very powerful odor of gasoline coming from the room. I observed that the sheets were bunched up and some blood spatter on a pillow. There were also some tissues that appeared to have a small amount of blood on them,” the officer wrote in the affidavit. Police also found a large plastic cup outside the door that still smelled of gas.

Vernal police located Wilcock on Monday and arrested him.

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Pat Reavy is a longtime police and courts reporter. He joined the team in 2021, after many years of reporting at the Deseret News and KSL NewsRadio before that.

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