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Golden Corral worker lit on fire dies, family says

Charge upgraded to murder for boyfriend accused of attacking Carol Demmons

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 56-year-old Golden Corral worker who police say was intentionally lit on fire by her boyfriend last month inside the restaurant died Tuesday, her family told News4Jax.

Carol Renee Demmons was doused with lighter fluid by Darryl Tyrone Whipple, 58, who then ignited her with a lighter as she ran away, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office. Whipple pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder and criminal mischief, but after Demmons' death, Whipple's charge was upgraded to murder.

He was scheduled to appear on the new charge Thursday morning but did not show up in court because he was "acting up," authorities said. His next court date will be Dec. 6.

Demmons suffered burns on 62 percent of her body in the Oct. 12 attack, her brother, Wilson Smith, told News4Jax last month.

She died Tuesday afternoon at the UF Health Shands Hospital Burn Unit in Gainesville, her brother said.

Demmons' son, Michael Floyd, said he left his mother's bedside just two hours before she died. He spent the last three weeks at his mother's side and said she seemed to be getting better. 

"Mainly her heart started to reverse," Floyd said. "She was getting a little better. She was opening her eyes, and she was comprehending and understanding what we were saying."

Days after Demmons was airlifted to the hospital, Smith said he learned from his sister's close friends that her boyfriend of a year had threatened her before. 

"When I met him, I didn't get the impression that anything was going wrong. I only found out things were going wrong after this happened," Smith said. "I was blown away. I couldn't believe (it). I was asking myself why, why did he do that to her?"

Smith shared the harrowing story of his sister's recovery last month, saying she was on a ventilator, using a respirator and underwent surgery. 

"She's just laying there. Her whole face is burnt," Smith said. "Her whole body is burnt, like, 62 percent of her whole body. And the doctors, they're not optimistic at all."

Cardinal Corral of Jax, Inc., a Golden Corral franchisee, released the following statement Wednesday on Demmons' death: 

"We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Carol Renee Demmons, a cherished member of our team. She was a kind person who worked tirelessly each day to give our customers her very best.  We extend our deepest sympathies to Carol’s family and friends, including all of her colleagues at our restaurant."

A VYSTAR account has been opened so anyone wishing to donate to help the family pay Demmons' medical bill can do so. The account number is 703212005.

The family has also started a GoFundMe page.