Clearwater police: Woman doused roommate, set him on fire

By Holly Gregory, Reporter
Last Updated: Wednesday, October 22, 2014, 5:00 PM

Clearwater police have arrested a woman they say doused her roommate with nail polish remover and set him on fire.

Around 2:30 a.m., 33-year-old Melissa Dawn Sellers got into an argument with 42-year-old Carlos Ortiz Jr. at a home on the 300 block of Gunn Avenue. The two had been drinking, and Sellers doused Ortiz's upper body with nail polish remover and ignited with him a lighter or cigarette, police said.

According to Ortiz's friend and witness, Ines Causevic, Sellers was angry at Ortiz because he had thrown out her spaghetti and meatballs.

"She was setting little objects on fire, then that turned into pouring nail polish remover all over him, and then all of a sudden, the lighter sparked and he lit on fire," said Causevic.

Causevic said she threw water on Ortiz and tore his shirt off, trying to put out the fire.

"When he got up, his face was like melting off, it was pink and sore," said Causevic. "His lips were burning."

Ortiz was taken to Tampa General Hospital, where he is listed in critical condition with burns to his face, chest and shoulders.

Sellers left the scene before police arrived, but returned later from her stepfather's home nearby and was arrested, police said. She was charged with aggravated battery.

In an earlier news release, police said Sellers had been charged with attempted murder due to the extent of Ortiz's injuries.

Neighbors and friends of Ortiz said they are sickened by the incident. They said Ortiz was a good guy who helped people out and let Sellers move in because she had been evicted.

"That's my friend and I can't imagine such a horrible thing, because he didn't deserve that," said Katherine Muds. "He would never hurt anybody."

Sellers has prior arrests for battery and robbery.