Massachusetts · Racially Motivated

Woman forced by 6 teens to douse self with gasoline and is set on fire

October 2, 1973
Boston, Massachusetts
Evelyn Wagler is forced by six teens to drench herself in gasoline and is lit on fire

Wagler’s car had stalled on the evening of October 2. She grabbed a gas can and walked approximately 15 minutes to a gas station. On her return trip, she was attacked by a group of six teens who dragged her behind an apartment building, beat her, shouted racial slurs at her (Wagler was white and her attackers black), and forced her to pour her newly acquired gasoline on herself upon threat of additional violence. After she complied, one of the attackers flicked a match at her, setting her alight, before they laughed and walked away.

Wagler attempted to put the fire out by rolling on the ground, but when that failed she walked to a nearby liquor store. The clerk, Fred Cortney, stated Wagler remained calm during their interaction, despite the fact she was still burning. “Her face was black. It was amazing she could even talk. Her clothes were smoldering. Her skin was peeling. She walked in and said, ‘Will you please call an ambulance?’ Then she turned around and walked out just like nothing happened.”

Cortney instructed patrons to help put out the flames with a blanket while he called an ambulance. Wagler was able to inform police of the events of her murder, though she died of her wounds around four hours after the attack, at approximately 1 a.m. on October 3.

The murder remains unsolved.

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