BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. - Naomie Breton begged a judge two weeks ago to forbid her violent ex-boyfriend from coming near her but was immediately turned down.
On Monday, her ex-boyfriend allegedly doused the 34-year-old single mother of three with gasoline and set her ablaze , a gruesome event captured by a surveillance camera. Although burned on her face and body, doctors at Delray Medical Center say she should recover.
Breton in March moved out of the home she shared with Roosevelt Mondesir, the father of her 4-year-old son. She told police the two were meeting about 3 a.m. outside the 7-Eleven at 7044 Lawrence Road in Boynton Beach to exchange custody of the boy.
Breton, a limo service dispatcher, was pumping gas into her silver Mercedes when Mondesir's white Jaguar pulled up. But her son was not with him. Instead Mondesir rushed at her with the gas can and what appeared to be a machete, police said. Mondesir poured gas on Breton and set her on fire.
"Get away from me!" Breton yells as she tries to lock her attacker outside the store. Moments later, he drags her outside. She reappears on camera engulfed in flames, shrieking hysterically as she tears off her shirt. A frantic store clerk calls 911 and the attacker ran off, police said.
Police dogs and helicopters found him two hours later, crouched behind bushes near the 7-Eleven. The incident ended with Breton at the hospital and Mondesir, 52, behind bars on a charge of attempted murder.
Palm Beach County Sheriff's deputies broke into Mondesir's nearby home on Mackinac Road near Lantana, where they found the pair's 4-year-old son sleeping, unharmed and alone, said Boynton Beach Police spokeswoman Stephanie Slater.
The boy is now in the custody of Breton's relatives, Slater said.
The attack followed charges by Breton that Mondesir had for months threatened her and had outbursts of rage, court records show. She tried get a restraining order against him on May 29, but was turned down after the judge cited a lack of evidence.
The couple's turbulent relationship began after they met in 2003, according to court files. Breton was married at the time, but she and her husband divorced in 2005. Mondesir, a truck driver for a Pompano Beach beverage distributor, moved into the single-story house on Mackinac Road where Breton lived with her two sons, now 11 and 13. The pair later had a son together.
The relationship grew volatile, and Palm Beach County Sheriff's deputies often got called to the couple's home, according to court files. In February, Mondesir allegedly cut up their furniture and threatened to hurt Breton and kick her out of the house, she said in her request for a restraining order.
In March, a fight over the television remote ended with a violent outburst and Breton's arrest on a domestic battery charge. Mondesir called the Sheriff's Office and said his girlfriend punched him in the face. Breton said she hit him after he slugged her first. She was never prosecuted.
Breton and the kids moved out days later.
"I have since been threatened on a daily basis through text and voicemail messages," Breton wrote in the restraining order request.
Mondesir left threatening messages on her phone, and vowed to get back at her, claiming "I am all about revenge," she quoted him as saying.
Breton feared Mondesir would kill her, according to her co-workers at Palm Beach Tours & Transportation in West Palm Beach.
"We knew she was going through difficult times; we were trying to be supportive," said her boss, John Critchett, owner of the limo service company where she works as a dispatcher.
Breton has worked hard to start and new life, said Critchett, who describes her as a "motivated" employee with a "good attitude." She's also a caring mother, he said, adding that last week she left work to attend her son's kindergarten graduation.
"We're all praying for her," Critchett said. "How horrific can you be to do this to someone?"
Neighbors on Mackinac Road said the couple's relationship problems came to a head about two weeks ago.
Gloria Danahy said she knew something was wrong when she saw Breton pacing back and forth in front of the home, talking on her cell phone.
The 84-year-old widow asked if everything was OK. "She said, 'No, I'm calling the police, so I can get my stuff out of there," Danahy said.
News of Monday's attack startled Danahy and others who know the couple.
Breton had recently become interested in religion, according to Collin Hendricks, a practicing Jehovah's Witness. "My wife used to go there frequently to talk to her about the bible," he said.
Kimberly Perez, 14, said Mondesir was a good neighbor.
"He used to bring us doughnuts," said Perez, the oldest of four siblings in a house across the street.