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Indian River County man arrested after deputies say he lit woman on fire

John Cardenas faces charges of attempted murder, kidnapping, false imprisonment
John Alexander Rodriguez Cardenas is accused of attempted murder after investigators said an accelerant was poured on a woman and she was repeatedly set her on fire.
Posted at 1:00 PM, Jun 10, 2024

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY, Fla. — A Vero Beach man is facing multiple charges after his roommate claimed he set her on fire.

Indian River County law enforcement responded Friday to a call involving a woman who claimed she had been beaten and burned repeatedly by her roommate.

The victim said John Alexander Rodriguez Cardenas, 30, tied her to a chair, doused her with rubbing alcohol and lit her on fire five to six times. The victim said he also punched and choked her. She managed to escape.

"Really a horrific scene out there," Indian River County Sheriff Eric Flowers said. "Sounds like something out of a Quentin Tarantino movie, to be honest with you."

According to the arrest affidavit, the victim's mouth was covered with red tape and she was bound to a chair while Cardenas repeatedly doused her with an accelerant and attempted to set her on fire. A witness, identified as Cardenas' live-in girlfriend, corroborated the victim's statement.

Neighbors told WPTV they suspected something was going on, as cars would come to and from the house at all hours of the night.

“Shocking. It’s right next door,” Elizete Donley said. "It’s just crazy. We need to know our neighbors better.”

Flowers said SWAT took Cardenas into custody at 6:56 p.m. Friday, from a residence at 2526 Sixth Avenue. They also found Cardenas in violation of a Risk Protection Order, as a bag full of shotgun shells and rifle ammunition rounds were discovered. No weapons were found.

The sheriff couldn’t definitively say what sparked the violence, but suspected drugs may be involved.

“This is a known drug house for us and we know that these parties were all tangled up in that," Flowers said. "It was a terrible circumstance.”

Cardenas faces charges of attempted murder, kidnapping and false imprisonment.

The victim was taken to Indian River Cleveland Clinic on Friday where she was treated for injuries sustained during the altercation, according to the affidavit.

“She did go to the hospital. She did get treated for all her wounds and her bruising," Flowers said. "She’ll be fine.”