Man accused of doing unthinkable to ‘punish’ longtime girlfriend

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PHOENIX, Ariz. — A man police say has a history of abusing his longtime girlfriend is facing felony charges of assault after allegedly setting the woman on fire “as punishment.”

According to investigators, Rafael Arredondo, 28, accused his live-in girlfriend of cheating with a neighbor. He then taped her hands, mouth neck and head and then doused her shirt and shorts with lighter fluid, KPHO reported.

“He used a plastic lighter and lit her on fire,” the arresting officer wrote in his probable cause statement.

Arredondo used his hands to pat out the flames on her shorts and then got a fire extinguisher to put out the fire on her shirt.

The woman suffered second- and third-degree burns on 25 percent of her body and will spend at least four weeks in the hospital.

Arredondo, whose hands were burned, initially told officers that a neighbor set his girlfriend on fire.

According to court paperwork, Arredondo said he had gone to the store, leaving the victim home alone.

“When he got home the victim was on fire and screaming,” reads the probable cause statement.

The victim’s version of events was different, and only came out when she was away from Arredondo.

“When the defendant was not around, the victim said what really happened was the defendant lit her on fire as punishment,” according to the arresting officer’s paperwork.

The victim also said it was not the first time Arredondo had abused her. Officers noted bruising and stitches above one eye. She said Arredondo had hit her and then “stitched it up so she would not have to go to the hospital.”

When the arresting officer told Arredondo what the victim had said, Arredondo became upset and uncooperative, repeatedly asking to see the victim.

“He said he did not know why she would do that and was obviously concerned that she claimed he did it,” according to court paperwork. “It was obvious he felt the need to see her and speak to her immediately. The interview was concluded due to Rafael’s behavior.”

Court paperwork indicates that Arredondo and the victim met as teenagers and had been together for 15 years. They have three children together. Those kids are in the custody of the Department of Child Services.

The document also shows Arredondo not only has a history of domestic violence but also that violent incidents were increasing in intensity and frequency. It also shows officers’ belief that Arredondo has control and jealousy issues. The victim told them Arredondo had quit his job “so he could be at home to keep an eye on her.”