“If I can’t have you, no one else can!” 48-year-old Berlinah Wallace apparently yelled at her ex, 29-year-old Mark van Dongen, as she threw sulfuric acid in his face. If the quote weren’t recorded as part of video evidence in a murder trial, you probably wouldn’t believe such a horrendous cliche be uttered in real life.
But, truth is stranger than fiction, apparently.
On the night of September 23, 2015, Wallace had hit her limit. The month earlier, her live-in boyfriend decided to end their relationship of five years for another woman. At around 3:00 am, Wallace went up to van Dongen’s bedroom, laughed as she voiced her silly line, and tossed the corrosive liquid in her ex’s face.
Van Dongen awoke screaming and ran out of the house, pleading for help from his neighbors. Paramedics eventually arrived and he was rushed to Southmead Hospital in Bristol.
The attacks resulted in paralysis from the neck down, the loss of his left leg, left eye, and most of the sight in his right eye. Burns covered 25 percent of his body and skin had to be surgically removed. He was told by medical staff that he would require a “lifetime of constant and dedicated care.”
Van Dongen couldn’t bear to live a life in constant care while looking into a mirror at an unrecognizable face. He successfully applied for euthanasia and, on January 2 of this year, ended his life.
In the weeks leading up to the attack, Wallace had Googled “can I die from drinking sulphuric acid?” and searched for graphic images of acid attack victims. She then bought a bottle of sulphuric acid from Amazon on September 2 and planned her attack.
The day before, however, the two had apparently been working on fixing their relationship. Van Dongen sent Wallace a text that read: “I love you, I always have. I’m truly sorry for what I’ve done, we need to work on our relationship.
“You and me are meant to be. I’ve always known that. I will treat you as you deserve to be treated. You are my princess.”
Wallace answered back with: “It means a lot hearing these words.” (nevermind that she’s reading them) “You are the love of my life. God does not make a mistake in this. I love you with all my heart.”
The two had planned to cook dinner after van Dongen returned from work. Instead, he went out with his new girlfriend, Violet Farquharson. When he finally returned to the Bristol apartment, he argued with Wallace, which ended with her saying she was going to stay in a hotel for the night.
She, of course, didn’t stay the entire night.
Wallace denies that she murdered van Dongen. She believed she was throwing water in his face. She also claimed that van Dongen was the one who tried to harm Wallace by pouring the sulfuric acid into a glass and attempted to coerce her to drink it.
In that moment, she claimed, she thought that the liquid in the glass was acid when it was contained, but water when it was released. Whether the jury will buy the argument will be determined soon.
The trial is ongoing.