Lowell man accused of setting woman on fire allegedly had years-long history of abuse

Lowell Police put tape up around the scene of a fire at 842 Varnum Ave. on Wednesday night. One person suffered burns and was taken from the scene by ambulance. AARON CURTIS/LOWELL SUN
Lowell Police put tape up around the scene of a fire at 842 Varnum Ave. on Wednesday night. One person suffered burns and was taken from the scene by ambulance. AARON CURTIS/LOWELL SUN
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LOWELL — The 42-year-old Lowell man accused of intentionally dousing his wife with gasoline and setting her on fire allegedly had a history of abuse that included punching her and burning her with an iron, prosecutors said at his arraignment on Friday.

Santos Lebron De Los Santo was ordered held without bail on the charge of assault and battery with a deadly weapon causing serious bodily injury.

According to Assistant District Attorney Suzanne Wiseman, authorities responded to 842 Varnum Ave. in the city’s Pawtucketville neighborhood around 10:40 p.m. on Wednesday, after someone spotted orange flames coming from inside the home and called 911.

Upon arrival, police officers saw that the victim had been moved outside and was covered in burns. Firefighters reported over an emergency radio broadcast that the victim appeared to have suffered second-degree burns on an estimated 90% of her body — and after being treated at the scene she was transported to Lowell General Hospital.

Wiseman said that the victim, who was still in critical condition Friday, has since been moved to a hospital in Boston and that it is unclear whether she will survive.

During the course of the investigation, De Los Santo allegedly gave varying accounts of what happened to police, including telling them the incident was caused by an electrical fire started by a ceiling light to saying that he jokingly took a gas can and the lighter into the bathroom, Wiseman said.

Wiseman added that investigators determined that there had been a history of abuse going back several years and that De Los Santo allegedly threatened the victim with further harm if she reported him.

De Los Santo is scheduled to return to court for a virtual 58A dangerousness hearing on April 13. He is being defended by Attorney Lynda Dantas.

Dantas didn’t comment on the charges during the arraignment and did not speak to the press.

Wiseman said the investigation remains ongoing with the potential for more charges if necessary.

Sun reporter Aaron Curtis contributed to this report.