Man arrested for setting 63-year-old woman on fire as she left work in Redford

William Gary Helmer arrested

Police say career criminal set woman on fire in Redford
Police say career criminal set woman on fire in Redford

REDFORD, Mich. – Police arrested a man they said set fire to a 63-year-old woman as she left work.

UPDATE: Farmington Hills man charged after woman set on fire as she left work

Dorothy Spinella had finished her shift at a Redford Coney Island at 7 Mile Road and Beech Daly when she was attacked.

William Gary Helmer, also known as “Rusty” is the suspect in this case, according to police.

“This Rusty guy put my mom in critical and tried to murder her with fire,” Spinella’s son, Bryan Morrissey said.

Her son is angry and heartbroken about what happened to his mother.

“She’s in critical condition. Her body could even shut down or keep going, it’s up to her right now,” Morrissey said.

Spinella has severe burns on about 40 percent of her body. Morrissey said those injuries will be rough to recover from.

“When she does pull through, it’s going to be a lot of rehabilitation. I’m going to try to keep her burns from discouraging my mother,” Morrissey said.

It’s unclear why Spinella was targeted. Police said the two may have been acquaintances in the past.

“He’s a 20 year plus convict. He’s killed people inside. He’s killed people outside of the prison. He’s escaped Jackson prison once in the ’80s. So why is the Department of Corrections allowing this monster to be out on the street?” Morrissey said.

Spinella’s son’s main priority is seeing his mother back on her feet.

“Everybody send as many prayers as you can for her she’s going to need them,” Morrissey said.

If you would like to help Spinella’s family, click here.

About the Author:

Victor Williams joined Local 4 News in October of 2019 after working for WOIO in Cleveland, OH, WLOX News in Biloxi, MS, and WBBJ in Jackson, TN. Victor developed a love for journalism after realizing he was a great speaker and writer at an early age.