Burned alive

Suicide likely cause of woman's death. Deputies find note and have tentative identification.
Melissa Topey
Jul 1, 2013


A body found in a burning vehicle on Lovers Lane at the Milan Wildlife Area appears to have been a suicide. 

Erie County Sheriff Paul Sigsworth said a license plate found in debris under the charred Ford Windstar identified the vehicle’s owner as Roberta Vick, 33, of Norwalk.

The body has been sent to the Lucas County Coroner for identification.

Deputies went to Vick’s home, where they found a suicide note saying she was going to kill herself by using gas and setting her van on fire. The note said the vehicle could be found at Lovers Lane. 

The fire that consumed the van was very hot, destroying much of the vehicle and the body inside. The van’s windows and lenses had melted, its tires had popped, and the paint had burned off.

Chief Deputy Jared Oliver of the Erie County Sheriff’s office said the heat indicated an accelerant had been used, but testing would have to confirm that.

Investigators are still attempting to find a vehicle identification number on the van, but that is not uncommon when there is a hot fire, Sigsworth said.

DNA collected at Vick’s home will be forwarded to the Lucas County Coroner’s office to help in the identification.

“It could takes weeks,” Sigsworth said.

The Norwalk Police Department had received two reports of suicide attempts by Vick in the last nine months, Sigsworth said.

A driver passing by on Kelley Road at 6 a.m. Sunday called 911 after he saw plumes of smoke and drove down Lovers Lane to find a vehicle on fire.

“I am down here at Lovers Lane. It looks like there is a car on fire,” the man told a dispatcher.

A few seconds later he said the car was totally engulfed, and he would wait for emergency responders.

Firefighters and deputies arrived at the scene. When the fire was extinguished, a badly burned body was found inside the charred vehicle.

For hours Erie County Sheriff’s deputies, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation and the Ohio Fire Marshal’s office combed the scene, treating it as a homicide and collecting evidence. The license plate was not found underneath until after the van had been processed and was moved.

Homeowners near the Lovers Lane entrance to the wildlife area told the Register they heard emergency vehicles but thought someone had crashed into a nearby guardrail that is at a curve.

Sigsworth said deputies talked to one person who was insistent he heard a gunshot. No evidence was found to support that.

“That could have been a tire popping,” Sigsworth said.



Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Off-topic comments.


She left behind children so please, please think about them before posting anything negative. They may not be reading anything at this point in time but you never know if they may want to in the future. RIP Roberta- I hope you found the peace and serenity you were searching for


Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Off-topic comments.


I find it hard to believe that someone killed themselves this way but her history does seem to indicate a desire to die. It is a shame and a tragedy, especially for her family. We can never know what another is going through or their reasons for choosing certain actions.


People have used this method before. It's not unheard of.


Clearly she wanted a permanent solution. I can't imagine how much pain someone must feel to want to use fire for suicide. Sounds kinda symbolic of the hell she was going through. Its sad when people struggle with drugs so bad n can't just get off them so just rather kill themselves. Her poor children.


Wow, what a way to go. For those who say it couldn't be suicide, you are wrong. People have killed themselves this way in the past! R.I.P. and I hope you are at peace now!

Sitting In The ...

In 2006 out of 33,300 suicides this method only accounted for 193 cases or 0.6% of all suicides. It does occur but it's extremely rare.


Please let her children heal from the pain of this tragedy. It's a shame she didn't (or couldn't) get the help she needed. She obviously stuggled with something in her life to want to go out this way. I can't see someone wanting to put themselves through that much pain in order to leave the earth so it does sound fishy to me. People end their lives in many ways, this one isn't one I think would be first on anyones list, but I'm sure it happens. May God rest your soul... I'm sorry you felt you had no other option.

Rest in Peace Roberta


When this is your answer to your problems, your problems must have been unutterably painful and, as far as you could see at least, insurmountable. No one should die like this...but no one should have to live in such pain, either. I'm so sorry she saw no other way out, and even more sorry for those she leaves behind. I'm hoping those who cared about her can take some small comfort in the fact that at least her pain has come to an end!

2cents's picture

RIP Miss. Vic, you have gone to the other side and may you find peace there : (

As for ID on van, the engine block should have numbers unless it was aluminum and they melted off.

Clark W. Griswald

Wow I bet they didn't think of that! You should have called them up to help out


She so very much loved her children.


Watch your mouths I dont care what she was going threw you all have no right to try and put her and her families business out here, have some respect!!!!

Clark W. Griswald



I see only respectful comments here so try rereading them.

JudgeMeNot's picture

The headline says it all.


Hummm Lets see did you see the comments that were removed? No need to reread I read them before they were removed!


Once again the SR shows their true colors! "Burned alive" Was that headline really necessary?

Clark W. Griswald

Hey SR, I'm pretty sure suicide is not a CAUSE of death


"Deputies went to Vick’s home, where they found a suicide note." SR didn't make this determination, this is what the evidence is showing so far. Could change but the SR only is reporting the facts as told to them by ECSO.

Clark W. Griswald

Thanks... suicide itself is not a cause of death. In this case, it would be smoke or extreme heat. I'm not saying it's murder, try reading better.


Suicide is very selfish especially if you have children and family. I don't care how much pain she was in. Now her kids are motherless. The family is left to pick up the pieces.

Kottage Kat

Prayers for the family
Blessed are they who mourn for they shall be comforted

Sitting In The ...

Just something about this doesn't add up...I mean would it be insane to think that someone wanted it to look like a suicide (just a thought)....but regardless a very sad story and my heart goes out to her family.

Clark W. Griswald

Maybe you just can't add?