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Dec 28 - Woman set on fire in LA as she sleeps on bench

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 Dec 28 - Woman set on fire in LA as she sleeps on bench
Unread 2 years agoclass of '05 - away - #1
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LOS ANGELES (AP) For more than 10 years, the homeless woman slept on the same plastic bus stop bench at a busy intersection in the San Fernando Valley, no matter how cold it was or if it was raining.

The 67-year-old, described by one church volunteer who saw her regularly as the "sweetest lady on the street," was nestled in her regular spot early Thursday when the unthinkable happened: A man came out of a nearby drug store, doused her with a flammable liquid and set her ablaze.

She was taken to a hospital, where she was listed in critical condition.

Witness Erickson Ipina called 911, and police arrested Dennis Petillo, 24, a short time later. He was booked for investigation of attempted murder and was held on $500,000 bail. It wasn't immediately known if he had retained an attorney.

"He just poured it all over the old lady," Ipina told reporters at the scene. "Then he threw the match on her and started running."

Police provided no possible motive and released no details on Petillo. The victim's name also was withheld.

LAPD Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese told the Los Angeles Times it was unclear whether Petillo spoke to the woman before he allegedly set her ablaze.

"There was no incident or dispute or clear motivation for this horrific attack. He did not know his victim. It defies explanation," Albanese said. "He is not of sound mind. ... The motive is mental illness."

The attack shocked nearby residents, and later Thursday about a dozen people held vigil around the charred bench, urging motorists to honk their horns in support of homeless rights. One sign placed on the bench read, "Our Prayers to Violet," believed to be the victim's first name.

Tej Deol, 31, who resides at a nearby sober living house, said the woman made the bench her home and often could be found sleeping there after sundown. He said he saw her Christmas Eve, getting ready to eat some soup.

"I told her, 'Merry Christmas and happy New Year,' and she said she was doing good," Deol said. "She was so kind. She was happy to have someone talk to her."

Thursday's incident was at least the third in Los Angeles County since October where people were set on fire.

Last week, a 55-year-old man was seriously injured when he was torched as he slept outside a doughnut shop in Norwalk. Two months earlier, Long Beach police said Jacob Timothy Lagarde, 27, threw a lit Molotov c*cktail at a man who had been waiting for his father outside a store. Lagarde has since been charged with attempted murder and five other counts.

Los Angeles police are investigating whether Petillo might be tied to any other similar crimes, but at this point detectives don't believe he is, Cmdr. Andrew Smith said.

As the number of flowers and candles around the scorched bench grew Thursday, people who knew the victim tried to comprehend why a woman who seemed so benign could be so viciously attacked.

Robert Wyneken, 75, who volunteers at a nearby church that serves meals for the less than fortunate, called Violet the "sweetest lady on the street." He said she was quiet, independent and resourceful.

Wyneken said she supported herself by recycling cans and didn't like to panhandle. He said there were efforts to get her housing and in contact with family, but she wouldn't have it.

"I just think she had something in her life where she wanted to be alone," he said. "She didn't want to be a burden to anybody."

Wyneken, Deol and others said they were deeply troubled by what had happened at the bus stop.

"The guy who did this should spend the rest of his life in jail," Deol said.

Steve Williams, 62, who identified himself as a homeless veteran, said he is aware of the dangers of sleeping on the street but that it's difficult to find space at nearby shelters, especially at this time of year.

"We are all human. No one should be treated like that," he said.

Woman set on fire in LA as she sleeps on bench - Yahoo! News
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Props given to darquecinnamon hot topic  (12-28-2012)

16 comments for "Dec 28 - Woman set on fire in LA as she sleeps on bench"

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Unread 2 years agoclass of '05 - away - #2
nahsuhmeanz  space
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Unread 2 years agoclass of '12 - on now - #3
UptownBronx92 375 heat pts375 space
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your fu*king font color is annoying
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Unread 2 years agoclass of '05 - away - #4
darquecinnamon 5 heat pts space
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I'm glad color font annoys you.
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Unread 2 years agoclass of '06 - away - #5
Yung Dilla 1245 heat pts1245 space
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Unread 2 years agoclass of '05 - away - #6
tokinjohn 572 heat pts572 space
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Yung Dilla said:
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Unread 2 years agoclass of '04 - away - #7
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Unread 2 years agoclass of '11 - away - #8
Blue Mercury 196 heat pts196 space
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saw this on KTLA this morning...sad to say nothing new in la.
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Unread 2 years agoclass of '12 - away - #9
LivinLaffin  space
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He was really pathetic!!!!!! He only got to answer to the father who lives above and beyond the sky. I truly wonder why do some of these people commit these crimes like this and then soon as they are locked up then hollerin bout it is a medical condition like yeah right!!!! U didn't have a medical condition whenever you purchase ya items that you plan to do damage with a BIG wat ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Unread 2 years agoclass of '11 - on now - #10
Dmart617 6 heat pts space
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Yung Dilla said:
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Unread 2 years agoclass of '04 - away - #11
Ldogg310 10 heat pts10 space
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"He is not of sound mind. ... The motive is mental illness."


must be a white guy
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Unread 2 years agoclass of '09 - on now - #12
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fu*king pathetic..How could you do another person like this...I hope that piece of sh*t catches aids and dies a slow painful death...
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Unread 2 years agoclass of '10 - away - #13
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Ldogg310 said:
"He is not of sound mind. ... The motive is mental illness."


must be a white guy
Actually no. The guys name is Dennis Petillo but he is of dark skin but with a Spanish last name. I want to say he may possibly be Belizean. Either way its a sad situation especially since there is so much poverty in LA and the homeless are constantly harassed.
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Unread 2 years agoclass of '12 - away - #14
Games Addict 13 heat pts13 space
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I was going to post this yesterday but forgot. This is actually right in front of where I used to live in Van Nuys. That Bench I think should be right in front of a Ralphs store that's next to a Bank of America...

I lived right on the apartment across the street that has the big pool...

anyway, the article said that woman had been there for over ten years and I do remember there being a homeless woman there... but I don't know if that's the same one. I remember her ankles were thick as fu*k... but I haven't been over there since 03...

anyway, unfortunate fu*king sh*t and whoever did it needs to die.
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Unread 2 years agoclass of '11 - away - #15
xo xo xo 81 heat pts81 space
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disgusting, smh.
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Unread 2 years agoclass of '06 - on now - #16
RaulG  space
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yeah the one in norwalk is right by my apartments...

Man sometimes i wonder if i was homeless where i would sleep... cus it aint safe around here...

Cant even walk alone at night or day without looking over your back and having your guard up...
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