Family mourns woman burned to death

Family mourns woman killed by boyfriend
Published: Oct. 20, 2013 at 1:58 AM CDT|Updated: Jan. 13, 2017 at 3:52 PM CST
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(WMC-TV) – A Memphis family says there were no warning signs before police say a man set his girlfriend on fire.

The woman is dead and her boyfriend is charged with first degree murder. Police say Gregory Powell, 57, confessed to the crime.

"We're just devastated; we just can't believe it happened," Maxine Mayes, the victim's sister, said.

Mayes was still in shock 24 hours after hearing that her only sister, Alice Wells, suffered a horrible death.

Mayes said, "I mean, they've never had any problems, never."

According to police, Powell confessed to knocking Wells out, dousing her with gasoline, then setting her ablaze in a bathtub.

It happened Friday night in a duplex the couple had shared for about four months.

"That's something you wouldn't expect a human to do to another human, especially someone like my sister," Mayes said.

Mayes and her family smiled as they spoke to Action News 5's Jason Miles about the good deeds Wells did for elderly neighbors and the pies and cakes she was known to bake and give away.

Mayes said, "She was just a good person, didn't nobody say anything bad about her."

Police say Powell actually flagged officers down at 201 Poplar and took them to the home in Highland Heights where paramedics pronounced Wells dead.

"I'm still asking 'why?' I really want to know what was going on that took him to that extreme to my sister like that," Mayes explained.

She said she'll follow Powell's case through the court system, "It can't bring my sister back, but I want the right thing to be done and justice served. And it will be."

Gregory Powell is being held without bond for first degree murder.

According to court records, his prior criminal history in Shelby County is limited to an arrest in 1977 for receiving stolen property.

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