Anchorage couple charged with lighting man on fire

Casey Grove

An Anchorage man and his girlfriend are charged with lighting another man on fire inside their Dewberry Street apartment in February.

A neighbor of one of the suspects found Joseph Sledge, 18, on fire Feb. 10 as he lay on the floor, police spokeswoman Jennifer Castro said Thursday.

"(She) grabbed a fishbowl to extinguish the flames," Castro said.

Sledge suffered severe burns to his lower extremities and was hospitalized for several weeks, Castro said.

Officers interviewed two roommates -- Trevor Detwan Perry, 19, and Elshandrea Yvon Charleen Durfee, 18 -- and "a conclusion as to how Joseph Sledge caught on fire was not immediately determined," Castro said in a written statement.

According to the charges filed Wednesday, Perry told an officer that Sledge showed up high and drunk earlier that day smelling like lighter fluid. Sledge needed a place to sleep, Perry told the officer. Perry said he left the apartment and returned to find Sledge already burnt and police there investigating.

Two days later, Perry's grandmother gave text messages to police that said Perry was planning to set Sledge on fire, according to the charges. A week or so later, an officer interviewed Sledge.

Sledge was sleeping in Perry's room when Durfee threw a liquid on him, Sledge told the officer. Perry and Durfee claimed the liquid was just water, but it smelled like gas, Sledge said during the interview. He got up and went to a living room chair, where he fell back asleep.

"He said he then woke up on fire," the charges say. "He said he was screaming for help, but Trevor and Elshandrea did not help."

The investigation did not reveal what motive the couple had in burning Sledge, said Castro, the police spokeswoman.

"During the detective's investigations, they asked the victim, 'Why would someone do this to you?' His response was, 'Because Trevor's crazy.'"

A friend of Perry's said Perry was mad that Sledge passed out on his bed and had taken Perry's car the day before without asking, the charges say.

On Wednesday, police charged Perry and Durfee with one count of first-degree assault.


Reach Casey Grove at or 257-4589.