Ernest Neal says he watched in horror as flames engulfed his niece, Sheron Pasco

Posted at 12:19 PM, Jul 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-06 17:23:09-04

The uncle of a woman who St. Petersburg police believe may have been set on fire Tuesday night says the couple had been arguing about infidelity and he tried to put out the flames by getting his niece into the bathtub.

Sheron Pasco, 37, was flown from her south St. Petersburg home to Tampa General Hospital.

According to Pasco's uncle, Ernest Neal, Sheron and her boyfriend, John Riggins, 37, had been drinking alcohol before the incident.

Neal said the couple typically drinks a 24-case of beer each, every night.

Neal told ABC Action News that Riggins accused Sheron of cheating and followed her into a back bedroom.

It is unclear what happened inside the bedroom because Neal says no one witnessed it.

MORE: St. Pete police question boyfriend after woman badly burned

Neal claims he did see Riggins take a gas can from outside by the lawn mowers and bring it into the bedroom earlier in the day.

But minutes later, Neal says he heard screaming and Sheron ran out of the bedroom engulfed in flames.

"She came running out the room engulfed in fire from her feet all the way up," said Neal.  "We directed her to the bathroom and turned the water on and started trying to put her out."

According to Neal, Riggins came into the bathroom and also tried putting out the flames.

During that time, Neal recalls running into the bedroom to try and put out the fire.

Neal showed ABC Action News the burn marks in the back bedroom. There was a heavy smell of gasoline. He also showed us the bathtub where they tried to save Sheron.

According to Neal, once they called 911, Riggins grabbed a pair of shoes and took off running.

St. Petersburg police would find him hiding out in a vacant home next door.

Neal said Riggins suffered burns to his arms when he tried helping Sheron.

Tuesday night, St. Petersburg police first stated Riggins doused Sheron in gasoline and then set her on fire. Due to conflicting reports and their inability to question Riggins, who is also being treated at TGH, it is now unclear how Sheron was injured and if Riggins is responsible.

Sheron remains in critical condition, family said.

Police said they will not have an update until they can question Riggins.