Family recounts trying to save woman allegedly set on fire by ex-boyfriend

Posted: Updated:
Cherry Woodson, Prater's youngest daughter, speaks about her mother's death. Source: WBRC video Cherry Woodson, Prater's youngest daughter, speaks about her mother's death. Source: WBRC video

Three-week-old Carter Prater lies peacefully in his father's arms. He had only a short time to visit with his grandmother before she lost her life.

But no doubt his family will tell him about Deborah Prater, a woman described as caring beyond measure.

"My momma was a great woman," said Cherry Woodson, the youngest of Prater's five children. "I'm a witness. She took off her shoes for a woman in Ensley one time and gave them to her."

Woodson said it was that same loving spirit that allowed her mom to stay in a violent relationship with Michael Kennedy, the man now charged in her death.

She said the two dated for three years, until three months ago, when Prater became fed up and ended the relationship.

Woodson said they hadn't heard from Kennedy until July 26. She said he had come by during the day and then later in the early morning hours of July 27. She said he quietly slipped into the family's house and confronted her mother.

"She was standing at the end of this couch and that's when he poured the gasoline down her face and it just ran down her body," Woodson said. "He threw a cigarette on her and she was just in flames."

Burn marks in the rug and couch indicate where Prater stood when she called for her daughter to help.

"My momma was in flames like a burning house and I'm trying to put her out with water," Woodson said.

Prater eventually succumbed to her injuries. A week after her death, her children are asking the community for help.

"I need financial help with her house, her bills, we don't have air," Woodson explains. "My momma would not want to lose her house."

Deborah Prater's Family has set up a memorial fund in her name.

If you'd like to do donate you can do so by stopping by an Wells Fargo Bank and asking for the Deborah Prater Memorial Fund.

Michael Kennedy remains in the Jefferson County Jail on murder and attempted murder charges. His bond is set at $500,000.

Copyright 2014 WBRC. All rights reserved.