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She Had No Idea She Was Living Next To the Man Who Would Destroy Life as She Knew It

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Finding a safe neighborhood is often on the forefront of parents’ minds when locating a place to live. But sometimes even the kindest, most careful people can encounter problematic neighbors.

Kirsten Ashby, the 27-year-old mother of 9-year-old Maddison, was the kind of neighbor you’d be lucky to have. She lived in Milton Keynes, England.

In November of last year, Lauren Russell, the girlfriend of neighbor Raymond Bowen, suffered from an epileptic fit of some sort. Ashby went over to see if she was okay.

For some reason her presence triggered Bowen, a 24-year-old father of five who clearly had something to hide.

“You are going to make me lose my kids,” he told Ashby. “I am going to burn your flat down.”

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But what he did was much worse. He doused her in petrol and set her on fire, calmly watching and smoking his cigarette.

According to accounts, he showed absolutely no signs of concern or distress as Ashby burned. No glimmer of humanity surfaced, and his girlfriend and one of his children saw the whole incident.

“Kirsten went there to help, yet what this man did ruined her life and changed our family’s life forever,” said Ashby’s mother, Lynn.

“My lovely daughter was unrecognisable. She had no face – it was all burned away. At first the doctors said she might not pull through.”

“They prepared us for the worst, and they put her in a coma for four weeks so her body could cope with the shock and the pain.”

Fortunately Bowen was sentenced to 19 years in prison, losing his children just as he’d feared. He has been labeled as remorseless and dangerous, and never gave a reason for his actions.

His children, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances will be better off without his toxic presence, but meanwhile, Ashby is still struggling to piece her life together — starting with her broken body.

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She suffered third degree burns to half of her body, and since the attack has undergone 80 surgeries to reconstruct her face. The photos are so distressing that we have chosen not to post them, but other sites have made them available.

Doctors took skin from other areas of her body to improve her appearance, but that means she’s had to wear bandages to help heal the areas the skin was taken from.

Her daughter is coping as well as can be expected, but she has nightmares about the incident. The family was told that she might not pull through, so they’re glad to have her with them, but there’s a long road ahead.

“She is still psychologically traumatized and obviously upset about the way she looks,” Lynn said. “But the biggest problem is that she can’t use her hands, so she is unable to do so many things.”

Family members have set up a Go Fund Me page for Ashby, with a goal of $41,000+. They have almost met that goal.

Money will be used to help pay for the numerous bills as well as find a suitable place for Ashby to live, now that she needs special care.

All this because Ashby was a kind and concerned neighbor — hopefully kindhearted strangers will continue to act as good neighbors should and help get her the assistance and funds she needs.

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking