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Thomasville mother set on fire faces long road to recovery

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THOMASVILLE, N.C. -- A Thomasville mother is still in the hospital and facing multiple surgeries after police say her husband doused her in gasoline and set her on fire.

The attack happened Monday at Angela and Portugal Byas' home on Leach Avenue in Thomasville around 7:30 p.m.

Investigators said Angela's two teenage daughters were home at the time and witnessed the incident. Portugal Byas, 69, was arrested and charged with attempted murder and first-degree arson.

Angela Byas' family told FOX8 she has had at least two surgeries and is covered in burns from her knees to her head.

"Her body is covered in bandages," said Angela's mother, Patsy Johnson. "She can't talk or open her mouth or eyes because she is so swollen from the burns. But if we ask her questions she can sometimes wiggle her toes so we keep telling her we love her and just to hang in there, keeping praying."

After the unimaginable attack, Angela's family said she will require six to eight months of surgeries and recovery in the burn unit at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center before starting at least a year of rehabilitation.

The burns could leave devastating scars, and Angela's brother says the doctors can not even classify the degree of burns yet because they are so deep and severe.

Johnson said her daughter is always the one helping others in need and now they will help her recover no matter what it takes.

"That's my baby laying there. If I could take her place I would. But I know I can't. I have great faith in Jesus, and I know that each little stepping stone is a step to her going home no matter how long it takes. And I know that she's the same person inside regardless of what she looks like on the outside," Johnson said.

She continued, "I don't know what life would be without her. I almost had to know what life would be without her, and I don't want to ever have to learn that."

More than anything Johnson said she just wants her granddaughters to heal emotionally and to have a happy family once again.

"After what I've seen can happen so quickly that nobody would have thought would have happened? Now I say [to other women] if you just have an inkling somebody wants to hurt you? Woman, you're better than that. Get out of that situation."

Police say Angela and Portugal had a history of domestic disputes; Johnson agreed but said there was never any indication of such extreme violence.

"I don't think there's justice enough to make him suffer as to what my daughter is suffering," she concluded. "I couldn't get through this without my faith.

Donations to help cover cost of her recovery can be given at any Newbridge Bank under the Angela Byas Family Fund.


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