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Man charged after woman set on fire while leaving work in Redford Township

William Helmer allegedly set Dorothy Spinella on fire

REDFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich. – William Gary Helmer appeared emotionless in court Thursday, showing no remorse after allegedly setting a 63-year-old woman on fire as she left her Redford Township job.

Dorothy Spinella was set on fire Saturday outside a Coney Island restaurant in the 25800 block of 7 Mile Road.

The Prosecutor’s Office said Helmer, 63, was acquainted with the victim. With help from the public, police were able to identify and find Helmer. Both Helmer and Spinella are Farmington Hills residents.

“Monsters do that,” said her son, Bryan Morrissey.

Morrissey, Spinella’s only child, watched as Helmer, who’s also known as Rusty, sat waiting for the legal consequences of what he’s accused of doing to be over.

However, until his next court appearance, he’ll remain locked in a cell.

“Due to concern for safety, the court orders a remand in this case,” the judge said to Helmer.

“That was relieving. I felt really good. The only thing we can do is just go through the entire justice system and hope that he never sees the light of day outside of a jail cell. Everybody just keep sending prayers,” Morrissey said.

Helmer is charged with one count of assault with intent to murder and aggravated assault. His next court appearance is Dec. 3.


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