A beautiful 31-year-old mother of two named Judy Malinowski who survived ovarian cancer and an addiction to prescription painkillers, unfortunately, had deadly taste in men. Her ex-boyfriend in a fit of rage doused her in gasoline, then set her on fire, but she lived just long enough to testify against him.
The ex reportedly threw gasoline on her behind a gas station in Gahanna, a Columbus, Ohio suburb, in 2015 and set her aflame. She somehow survived even after suffering third and fourth-degree burns over 90% of her body, leaving her horribly disfigured and bedridden.
Malinowski detailed her ordeal from her hospital bed and had it recorded. She succumbed to her physical trauma in 2017.
The recorded testimony was entered into evidence during her killer’s trial. It was the first time in Ohio history that a murder victim was able to testify against her killer in that manner.
(Video Credit: MTV Documentary Films)
An MTV documentary called “The Fire That Took Her” covers the young mother’s horrific ordeal that led to her death and it is now available for streaming on Paramount+. It’s directed by Patricia E. Gillespie and contains interviews with the detectives and attorneys who were involved in the horrific case. The documentary also speaks with Malinowski’s mother, Bonnie Bowes.
“Judy’s sacrifice, first and foremost, is what compelled me to tell her story,” Bowes told Fox News Digital in an interview. “The second is the chance to help other women.”
The film shows Malinowski in her hospital room during the final two years of her life. She was in a coma for seven months, underwent 60 surgeries, and was resuscitated seven times. An amputated arm had been scorched to the bone but the woman was a fighter.
Her once-lovely face was almost skeletal in the end. Her ears were gone and her nose was greatly diminished. She struggled to breathe but she fought to live. Her screams of pain were caught on camera as her scarred body tortured the soul residing within. It was a hellish existence that she finally gave up.
NOW STREAMING: the galvanizing #TheFireThatTookHer looks at the case of Judy Malinowski, who was doused in gasoline and set on fire by her ex-boyfriend – becoming one of the first people to testify at her own murder trial. Only on @ParamountPlus: https://t.co/kB51F4MRzz pic.twitter.com/D5LJQJISya
— MTV Documentary Films (@mtvdocs) May 24, 2023
Malinowski said the pain was “like a thousand hot needles,” which was later played in court where those in attendance could hear her gasps.
“There are no words to describe the agony she’s seen,” Bowes recounted. “And I don’t have any words to describe what those burn dressings were like, especially on your child. They were all over her body. No amount of medicine was able to stop the pain. There just wasn’t enough for those burns. It was brutal. One doctor said it was like blowing cold air on a nerve of a tooth over and over again, except it was her entire body. And then those burns were rubbed over and over.”
“I think, at that point, as a parent, you’re just on autopilot,” she stated. “I was in such survival mode for Judy to sustain life while I was caring for my grandkids. I think that’s what kept me going.”
Malinowski was determined to live long enough to give her testimony against the man who murdered her. Michael Slager was eventually charged with her murder when she passed. He had already been charged in 2016 with felony assault and aggravated arson.
Ohio mother burned alive testifies at her own murder trial
Judy Malinowski, became the first person in history to testify at her own murder trial in 2018
She was covered in gasoline and set on fire. She recorded a video from her hospital bed that was played in court
“She hung… pic.twitter.com/pV8etQQYfo
— Crime With Bobby (@crimewithbobby) May 27, 2023
“I knew Bonnie had great faith that there would be a recovery here,” Judge Warren T. Edwards, who was the assistant district attorney at the time, told Fox News Digital in an interview. “But I think, from our perspective, we knew that at some point, these injuries would take Judy’s life. So, from the very beginning, we prepared this case for a homicide trial. That meant I spent hours upon hours at Judy’s bedside preparing her. I was out there just about every week.”
“I’ve prosecuted dozens of homicides, but, of course, the victims in them are usually deceased at the time that the case is assigned to me,” he commented. “I get to meet their families, their loved ones, but never the victims themselves. This was unique. As I got to know Judy the victim, I knew this would be a very different kind of fight.”
The mother noted that the relationship between her daughter and Slager was “tumultuous from the first day.”
“She came to me multiple times and said she was trying to get away from Michael,” she recalled. “She would text me and say, ‘Please Mom, have the authorities get him out of my apartment.’ This relationship was not healthy. She realized there was something controlling about him. And he preyed on her weaknesses.”
“She attempted multiple times [in the past] to get help from the police,” Bowes remarked. “There were numerous 911 calls to her home. But I think there was an attitude at the time, without looking at Michael’s [past] record, that she was a prior drug user. … I think that played into it. And I also think it’s because they readily didn’t have information on Michael whenever they would walk into this domestic violence situation blindly. … I do think there was a stigma at that time.”
Forget the tattoos. This guy has a criminal record a mile long, much of it domestic violence, menacing and assault. Huge red flags.
Also watch the doc on this: “The Fire That Took Her.” Intense, poignant. #judymalinowski #judyslaw #dv
— Joline Gutierrez Krueger ♀️ (@jolinegkg) May 26, 2023
Five months before Malinowski passed, she recorded a three-hour attestation. She agonizingly had to lower her pain medication dosage so she could coherently testify.
She testified that an argument had resulted in Slager dousing her with gasoline. Some of it went down her throat. He pulled out a lighter and monstrously set her on fire, ignoring her pleas for help as she burned.
“The look on his face was pure evil,” Malinowski stated.
A grand jury indicted Slager on murder charges after she died. His defense attorneys argued against allowing Malinowski’s testimony, saying prosecutors improperly relied on civil law rather than criminal law to obtain the recording. In 2018, a judge ruled that the videotaped testimony would stand at Slager’s trial.
The judge wanted Slager put to death for Malinowski’s murder, but she didn’t want that.
(Video Credit: NBC4 Columbus)
“That didn’t surprise me,” her mother said. “That’s not really who Judy was. She had forgiven Michael throughout her journey in the hospital. We spoke a lot about it. She wanted Michael to find God. She wanted him to be sorry. She just couldn’t get her head around the fact that he could do this to her and not be sorry. But Judy didn’t hold grudges. She wasn’t that type of person, even at that level of pain.”
Judy’s Law was passed in 2017 and was signed by Ohio’s governor. It requires six additional years in prison for crimes that permanently maim or disfigure victims. When it was passed, Malinowski’s 13-year-old daughter Kaylyn claimed the bill’s passage helped her and her 10-year-old sister Madison know that their “mommy did not suffer in vain.”
Slager pled guilty in 2018. He got life in prison without the possibility of parole.
“My daughter suffered so greatly,” Bowes said, according to Fox News. “She never wanted another woman to suffer the way she did. She wanted to make a change. She fought to change the laws and help other women.”
“Her relationship with [Slager] was only really from April to August. In those few months, her whole life was just destroyed,” the mother concluded.
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