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Family responds to attack on woman early Wednesday

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Althea Bernstein
Althea Bernstein

UPDATE (WKOW) -- The woman who police say was the victim of a possible hate crime is recovering from burns on her face and back.

The family of Althea Bernstein released a statement Thursday afternoon.

Our family is saddened by what happened to Althea and the unprovoked attack on her body.

At this time, our family is asking everyone to respect our privacy as Althea is recovering from the burns on her face and neck.

... we feel it’s in the best interest of Althea to heal and to seek treatment.


MADISON (WKOW) -- The Madison Police Department is investigating an alleged hate crime after bi-racial woman said she was burned with lighter fluid in downtown Madison Wednesday morning.

Police say the victim, an 18-year-old woman, believes she was driving on West Gorham Street at about 1 a.m. when she was stopped at a red light at State Street.

Her driver's side window was down and she heard someone yell out a racial epithet. She told police she looked and saw four white men. One used a spray bottle to put liquid on her face and neck and then threw a lighter at her. The liquid went up in flames.

The victim said she drove forward and was able to pat out the flames. She drove home and her mother encouraged her to go to the hospital, according to police.

She was treated for burns and with need to continue to seek medial care for her injuries. Hospital staff think the liquid spray on her was lighter fluid.

Investigators are looking into the case and examining surveillance images to see if the assault could be seen on camera.

Anyone with information about this is asked to contact the Madison Area Crime Stoppers at (608) 266-6014 or by computer at

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Dan Plutchak

Social Media and Digital Content Manager, 27 News

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