Police: Louisiana Woman Set Herself On Fire and Wrote KKK At Crime Scene To Fake Hate Crime

We have another bizarre case of a person who faked a hate crime. We previously followed the case of a lesbian in Nebraska charged with faking a gruesome anti-homosexual attack in her home. Now, police have concluded that a black woman in Louisiana who was the subject of vigil and national outcry is not a victim after all. Sharmeka Moffitt, 20, claimed that three white men doused her with a flammable liquid and lit her on fire while writing KKK and a racial slur on her car. Police say that Moffitt did these acts to herself.

Moffitt called 911 on a Sunday night to report that she was attacked while on a walking trail in Winnsboro by men in white hoodies. She suffered extensive burns.

However, police found that her fingerprints were found on a lighter and lighter fluid at the scene. Police say that they have not been able to ask Moffitt about the allegations because she remains in critical condition.

The Franklin Parish District Attorney’s Office will now decide whether to file charges against Moffitt.

Before the investigation’s findings, the federal government was treating the case as a federal hate crime. Vigils were held and Facebook sites were created seeking justice for Moffitt.

The question is whether Moffitt should be charged. I believe that she should be charged. I remain disturbed by the fact that Crystal Mangum was never charged after making false gang rape allegations against members of the Duke Lacrosse team. The allegation resulted in the destruction of the lives of these students and the university itself turned on the students — not waiting for a determination of guilt. Mangum compounded her crime by appearing at rallies and stoking the anger over her alleged abuse. In a highly political (and in my view unprincipled) decision, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper decided not to charge Mangum despite her ruining the lives of these students and causing an international controversy over false allegations. It sent a chilling message that false rape charges can be treated as simply bad judgment rather than a crime. What is bizarre is Cooper cited the need to reduce the public controversy surrounding the case, but it was Mangum who fueled that controversy and then, with Cooper’s help, benefited from it. Mangum was later repeatedly arrested for other crimes. Other false rape victims have not only been allowed to avoid criminal prosecution but in one case was allowed to keep money received as a faux victim.

Unlike Cooper, some prosecutors do take false rape claims more seriously and charge the culprits. For an English case, click here.

In the same fashion, Moffitt deserves a criminal charge if this evidence is as strong as suggested. While Mangum’s deception was worse in targeting specific men, Moffitt intentionally triggered a hate crime investigation and may have resulted in the implication of innocent persons. It also served to fuel racial tensions. While I expect that there are serious questions of her mental state, those issues should be resolved in the course of the criminal process. Given the burns, I would not argue for a long prison sentence and, if a first offender, would be inclined toward probation. However, these false allegations must be treated as criminal matters.

What do you think?

Source: CBS and Franklin Sun

26 thoughts on “Police: Louisiana Woman Set Herself On Fire and Wrote KKK At Crime Scene To Fake Hate Crime”

  1. In general, I favor the approach supposedly used in the Venetian Republic… false accusations resulted in the accuser receiving the punishment for the crime they claimed occured.

    That said, in this case the woman is clearly insane and probably belongs in an institution rather than jail.

  2. jim2,

    “i mean if she was a white banker and stabbed a black cabbie while screaming profanities and racial epithets then trying to stiff him after a ride to his estate would you be so quick to assume guilt. didn’t think so.
    i have started to notice a trend lately.”

    Agreed. Changing people takes apparently more than 10,000 years since agrarianism and its cultural followers have emerged. Primacy of own person, group,and hate for otherness prevails.

  3. GeneH,

    Do you live there?

    Why are we so quick to reject, as you did, the possible efforts by the police to defuse the problem by converting her from a victim of KKK, and into a criminal (possibly deranged)????

    KKK exists not only in cells but in the remnants of Jim Crow, and that seems from general evidence to prevail all over the south, wherever crackers still roam in pickups.

    She was comely, she was uppity by aping the white man’s sport of jogging in the green, she could be pressured, and if not willing could be assaulted for saying no to their proposition. Simple.

    And my position is supported by the same lack of evidence.

    They could have lifted her prints, just saying. And that would solve it all, for so many.

  4. i think you should wait until the police interview her before you jump to a conclusion, something the police should do as well. it’s not like the police have never worked an agenda before.
    i mean if she was a white banker and stabbed a black cabbie while screaming profanities and racial epithets then trying to stiff him after a ride to his estate would you be so quick to assume guilt. didn’t think so.
    i have started to notice a trend lately.

  5. If she survives, I am not sure how ‘extensive’ the burns/damage she should be charged and then sent to psychaitric for her sentence (if found guilty). As said it is one thing to make these charges, it is another to do such kind of damage to one’s self. (I understand how bad the mental health system is but something is (usually) better then nothing.

  6. OS, Raff, excellent points…. I am in total agreement with you and supported by what Gene stated….

  7. I know a fair bit about this region, so let me throw in a few things about it.

    1) Public mental health care is practically non-existent and where it is available, it is of spotty quality at best. I’ve heard of patients seeking help and having “doctor’s” provide them a diagnosis within five minutes of meeting them, write a script and shoo them out the door, i.e. they are basically clearing houses for pills. Anyone familiar with any sort of quality care knows it takes quite a bit more observation than five minutes to get a grip on a patient’s issues.

    2) The police, while not always exactly a paragon of civic virtue, are aware of the media attention racially tense cases bring and while they will do what they can to mitigate such tensions – absent some proof to the contrary – they are unlikely to play with the evidence is such cases because they have a vested interest in making sure that the right thing gets done in such instances. If they don’t, it can create an underlying tension that just festers until something else comes up again that they would rather not have to deal with. In that part of the state, meth has become a serious problem and their hands are pretty full with that.

    3) Although there are still some bastions of KKK influence in Louisiana (in fact, a couple of small towns you really wouldn’t want to break down in after dark if you were anything other than white – sad but true), that particular area hasn’t had any serious concentration of Klan activity since the 60’s.

    On the issue of pressing charges for filing false claims I do think such action is appropriate under many circumstances. In this one? I think we need more information here on her actual mental state before anything is done on that front. Setting one’s self on fire is a pretty extreme act and an indicator that something has gone wrong that prison or jail time might not fix.

  8. Indeed we need more evidence! We need a coherent witness, and this woman is not able to engage authorities (at this time… if ever). Either a case of mental illness, or the ultimate trick. There are concerns here and we need evidence from this “victim.”

  9. The KKK is the last group of villains to need anyone’s “help” in creating real crimes. Maybe she wanted them to pay for crimes they’ve gotten away with in the past. The KKK is not exactly a sympathetic group of sub-humans to pin this type of crime on. Maybe she didn’t think it through at all. Maybe she didn’t even do this. In any case, this lady is in desperate need of help *if* she went so far as to do this.

  10. OS, I vote your ticket on this one. Since the 1980s we have been destroying the infrastructure of this country’s ability to maintain public heatlh, and we have concentrated that attack upon the public MENTAL health of the country. Some of the mentally ill are, obviously, aggressive; some are self-destructive. This woman appears to be both. I am betting many people could have intervened at many places along the line to get her some kind of help before this insanity was played out on the national stage.


    Strangely enough, only the criminal justice system has the POWER to deal with mental illness and even there it goes wrong most of the time. Our “justice system” meanwhile has great power to CAUSE or at least EXACERBATE mental illness wherever it is found. One of my main rants. I’m trying to get a forensic psychiatrist I know to tackle this in an edited book soon; who knows?

  11. Written without having read the comments.

    Good reasoning but for two facts.

    The state where the crime was committed. And the probability of the police arranging false evidence.

    The state speads for itself.

    As does the latter allegation, considering that the burn victim in in the hospital, presumably under custodial care for protection from further hate crimme. This provides ample opportunity to lift prints or imprint directly prints on the objects offered as evidence.

    The Duke lacrosse victim, in view of subsequent crimes, seems an equivalent to those who make repeated suicide attempts—-in search of help. Beyond me. OS?

  12. Seems to me there’s plenty of hate around that no one should need to fake it.

  13. The worst part of these false claims is the doubt they cause to be cast on legitimate hate crimes or legitimate sexual assault claims. She should be charged and sent to prison in the name of all legitimate victims.

  14. It makes me wonder what “dirt” Mangum had on the prosecutor to so casually walk away from all the damage she did.

  15. Let’s see more evidence before we condemn this woman. It would not be the first time police have fudged the evidence. Sad case.

  16. Any time I see something like this, and there have been many instances, my first instinct is to think of some kind of mental illness as an explanation. Our mental health system is broken badly, and most local mental health centers are an oxymoron. Trying to get an emergency appointment with a psychiatrist often entails a three month wait. Insurance panels treat mental illness like the red-headed stepchild.

    I am less concerned about punishment as I am getting this woman, and others like her, some quality mental health treatment.

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