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story.lead_photo.caption 219 Water Street is seen Tuesday morning. - Photo by Gavin Lesnick

A North Little Rock man is accused of setting his girlfriend on fire Monday night, causing injuries that resulted in her death.

Matthew Wayne Nichols, 46, has been charged with first-degree domestic battery in the case. A police spokesman said Tuesday that the charge will be upgraded to first-degree or capital murder, though it's not yet clear which it will be.

The victim, identified in a police report as Jessie McFadden, 38, suffered burns to 90 percent of her body and was taken to UAMS Medical Center.

North Little Rock Police Department Sgt. Brian Dedrick said McFadden succumbed to her injuries overnight.

Nichols made an initial appearance by video in North Little Rock District Court on Tuesday, during which a preliminary innocent was entered and he was ordered held without bail.

Several family members attended the hearing and had a brief period to address the judge.

"Do he get the death penalty?" one asked, her voice strained with emotion. "He watched her burn."

Authorities say it happened about 5:20 p.m. at 219 Water St.

Photo by Pulaski County Sheriff's Office
Matthew Nichols

One witness to the attack told investigators he saw smoke in the area and responded to see if anyone needed help.

"When he got to the front of the house, he watched ... Matthew Nichols pour gasoline onto Jessie McFadden's body, which was already on fire," police wrote in the report.

A second witness provided a similar account, and both witnesses identified Nichols in a photo lineup, the report said.

Police say Nichols approached officers at the scene, said there had been a "family disturbance" and that he needed to get in a police car.

After being arrested, Nichols told police that McFadden was his fiancee, but McFadden's parents said Tuesday that the pair weren't engaged to be married. Family members told authorities the two had been dating about 2 years.


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  • DeeMacLady
    May 21, 2013 at 10:05 a.m.

    I bet if you dig a little deeper into their relationship, you will probably find that she has reported his past abuse and nothing ever happen to him because of it. He is a sick joker and a coward. Why do you think he placed himself in the police car? Crimes against women are committed everyday in this State and nothing is ever done about until someone is dead. I feel for her family and I will be praying for them. I 'd like to think what if she had taking the law in her own hands? She would probably be still here ....Locked up but still HERE... Please stop killing one another when someone doesn't want to be in a relationship with you anymore. Move On!

  • LR1955
    May 21, 2013 at 11:12 a.m.

    Very very sad. I sure hope there are no children left with out their mother.

    This poor excuse of a human male should die for his crime, in the same way he dealt death to the victim.

  • ArmyMedic
    May 21, 2013 at 2:48 p.m.

    Condolences to the woman's family. Nichols, you're a COWARD & a DISGRACE TO MEN. The judicial system should rule that you will BURN TO DEATH IN A FURNACE. But, fortunate for you; we have a weak judicial system. @ DeeMacLady, our police is limited to what they can do against a man like Nichols when it comes to domestic cases. Women & Men of domestic abuse by their partners need to report then most importantly, learn how to protect yourself. Learn the LAWS to protect yourself because the police can NOT be everywhere to be able to protect you.

  • Guzzler
    May 22, 2013 at 6:15 a.m.

    One worthless POS, now he will get to enjoy his new lovers down at Cummins, hope he is sodomized dailey

  • UncleRemus
    May 22, 2013 at 9:38 a.m.

    Typical behavior for a chittlin smackin ghetto monkey

  • allen615
    May 23, 2013 at 6:50 a.m.

    My big cousin gone and the bitch ass dude took her from us. He was a coward... he never did or said anything while us males were around but now this has happened. He sat n watched my cousin cook alive. When i seen her it wasnt her stretched out like that but i had to face what it was. Indeed we all are hopin for the death penalty cause he didnt have to do her like that. The family havent seen him in a while but all of a sudden he pops up on mothers day just to plan what happened monday. Mane she didnt deserve that at all.

  • Felina
    May 23, 2013 at 8:24 a.m.

    Allen, I am so sorry for your loss! I hope that justice will prevail and will help your family in their healing.

  • HM2
    November 30, 2015 at 7:09 p.m.

    Army Medic; Thanks so much for your service. From a Navy Corpsman.

  • PopMom
    November 30, 2015 at 7:38 p.m.


    I'm so sorry for your loss. Words cannot express.