Florida

Man lit captive, pregnant girlfriend on fire and hit her with a sledgehammer, Florida cops say

The woman’s 45-year-old boyfriend, Kenneth Swanger, pictured here, faces attempted murder charges, according to authorities in Florida’s panhandle.
The woman’s 45-year-old boyfriend, Kenneth Swanger, pictured here, faces attempted murder charges, according to authorities in Florida’s panhandle. Escambia County Sheriff's Office

A Florida man held his pregnant girlfriend captive for more than a week and tortured her — dousing her with lighter fluid, throwing a burning blanket on her and hitting her in the head with a sledgehammer, according to authorities.

The woman finally managed to escape her 45-year-old boyfriend Kenneth Swanger’s home in Beulah, Florida, on Sept. 15, the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office said.

Deputies said the woman fled to a gas station, where she called her family for help, the Pensacola News Journal reports.

After her escape, the injured woman’s family took her from the panhandle of Florida to Mississippi — but despite the brain bleeding, skull fracture and swelling the woman suffered during the abuse, she waited two days before going to a hospital, deputies said.

One of the nurses there reportedly said the woman probably would have died from the brain swelling if her skull hadn’t been fractured as well, the News Journal reports.

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The Mobile, Alabama, hospital that cared for the woman called the Escambia sheriff’s office on Sept. 18 to report the abuse, deputies said. That call began an investigation, which resulted in Swanger’s arrest about 12 hours later.

Swanger faces charges of false imprisonment and attempted murder, the sheriff’s office said. The abuse ran from Sept. 4 to Sept. 15, investigators said.

An arrest report said the pregnant woman yelled loudly after Swanger lit her on fire, which was the only reason he extinguished the fire by putting her in a bath, the News Journal reports.

The report said that, had it not been for the injured woman’s yelling, “he would have killed her,” WEAR reports. The fire incident was about a week before the sledgehammer incident.

The woman was 20 weeks pregnant, the News Journal reports.

The sheriff’s office’s report said the woman had to be treated for broken fingers, head lacerations and severe burns on her neck, back, chest, stomach and shoulders, NorthEscambia.com reports.

Swanger’s bond is $1 million, according to NorthEscambia.com.

Idahoan Jaclyn Zabel was killed by her boyfriend of 9 years. Her mother, Dawn Jantzen, spent years in an abusive relationship. Jantzen now worries about her grandchildren.

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