Family of woman burned alive in Golden Corral frustrated by case against ex-boyfriend

Carol Demmons was 56 when investigators said her former boyfriend set her on fire in 2016

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It’s still horrifying to consider what happened even though it has been years since Jacksonville was shocked by the crime.

A man doused a woman with lighter fluid then set her on fire at a Golden Corral restaurant on the Westside in 2016. Carol Renee Demmons later died from her injuries.

On Friday, the family told News4Jax their horror continues because the case against the man accused in the attack can’t move forward.

Demmons was 56 when investigators said her former boyfriend Darryl Whipple, 58, doused her with a flammable liquid and lit her on fire as she worked behind the dessert counter inside the restaurant on Memorial Park Road, just off Normandy Boulevard.

Demmons’ aunt Robin Sumpter said she is frustrated because the case against Whipple, the man accused of the crime, is dragging on.

“When you lose someone because of a tragic death it kills the family as well, not just that person,” Sumpter said. “We just been going through this too long. We’re looking for closure. We need closure.”

Sumpter said the frustration has grown unbearable because Whipple was in court a month ago, but won’t be in court again until September.

He’s been ruled incompetent to stand trial.

“That’s nine months we will have to sit and hold the hands of each other and deal with this all over again,” she said. "And what is he doing within the nine months? Is he on vacation? Is he taking a break? Because he can’t handle what’s going on? He did it. It took him 30 seconds to do what he did. Now it’s taking us three years plus to get closure. Our family is more than ready for it to come to an end.”

News4Jax reached out to the State Attorney’s Office and it provided a statement:

Beginning in December 2018, the defendant in this case was deemed incompetent to stand trial and was placed under involuntary, secure commitment. Follow-up reviews throughout 2019 concluded he still met the criteria for involuntary hospitalization. The State filed charges against the defendant and remains ready to prosecute upon his competency.

State Attorney's Office

Sumpter, and those who loved Demmons, want Whipple prosecuted. They believe he knew what he was doing.

“We’re missing Carol very much,” Sumpter said. “I don’t think I personally will ever get over missing Carol. But with the closure of the case, I’m sure that will bring a greater relief to this family.”

Sumpter said video from the Golden Corral seems to show Whipple attacking Demmons by dousing her with a liquid, lighting her on fire, and when the interior fire sprinklers put out the flames, he lit her on fire again.

She also said the case has been going on so long because the system is broken, and needs to be reinvented.

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