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The case summaries of violent acts committed against homeless individuals were gathered from a variety of sources. These sources included, but were not limited to, three main areas: published narratives found in news reports, information gathered by homeless advocates across the country, and self-reported incidents from homeless or formerly homeless individuals. While we could not always identify the motives behind each attack based on our sources of information, some of these attacks were perpetrated due to a bias against the victim because of his or her homeless status.  Other attacks may have been perpetrated merely because the homeless person was in a vulnerable position to be attacked, due to the nature of homelessness.  Only attacks committed by housed individuals toward homeless individuals were included; crimes committed by homeless individuals toward other homeless individuals were excluded from this report. 

CASE DESCRIPTIONS OF DEATHS BY MONTH, DATE, AND CITY IN 2008:

TOTAL DEATHS: 27

FEBRUARY

Frederick, Maryland
Homeless Man Murdered

February 14: William Sigler, 49, a repeat offender of assault, drug possession, reckless endangerment, sexual assault, and battery, was found guilty of the fatal attack of Samuel Webster Hood Jr., 57, a homeless man living in Frederick.  Police were called to respond to an unconscious Hood with his skull cracked open from the attack.  Authorities report evidence of strangulation and severe trauma to the head and neck from repeated assault. A witness reportedly saw Sigler standing over Hood shouting to call 911, but said Sigler left before authorities arrived. 

Evidence found at the scene showed blood marks on the wall of the alley as well as on a windowsill.  Police were led to Sigler’s apartment, where a search produced blood spattered sneakers, blue jeans, and a hat. 

In December, Sigler pleading guilty toecond-degree murder Sigler was sentenced by County Circuit Court Judge G. Edward Dwyer Jr. to 30 to 50 years in the Maryland Division of Correction.  The Frederick News-Post reported, “It was the maximum sentence Dwyer could hand down.”  After trial, there remains to be no motive for the crime.  When Sigler was told that the victim was Sammy Hood, he said, “Oh him, he’s just a beggar, a vagrant.”     

 

MARCH

Richmond, California
Two Homeless Men Attacked and Robbed in Separate Incidences on the Same Morning

March 29: The violent streak occurring in Richmond, CA is continuing at full force, with two more robberies and shootings of homeless men.  One homeless man was robbed of $100 and a case of beer at 1:20 a.m. on March 29th by two men.  The two men then shot him twice in the back; police reported that the 35 year-old man’s injuries were not life threatening. The second victim, Oscar Alejandre, 42, was shot at 6 a.m. on Saturday and died shortly after.  Witnesses report that he was robbed before two attackers shot him.  Police were unsure if the two shootings and robberies were related; no arrests were made in either case.

 

APRIL

Tucson, Arizona
Homeless Man Beaten to Death Under Overpass

April 13: In April, Steven Paul Gedatus, 62, was beaten to death by two men while he was sitting underneath a highway overpass in April. Scott Allen King,18, was convicted of negligent homicide on July 24, 2009, and is facing 4-8 years in prison.  Adam Scott King, 29, faces trial in August and may receive 10-22 years in prison. An autopsy report found that Gedatus died from blunt force trauma and had sustained multiple injuries including five broken ribs and a ruptured spleen during the attack. Adam King was convicted of murder and is now serving time.

New York, New York
Three Men Charged in Death of Homeless Man

April 25: Shamod Murray, 33, a homeless man living in New York City, was found dead in the hallway of a Harlem apartment complex. Three tenants, Dean Fuller, 45, Stephan Fuller, 37, and Roger McFarland, 41, have been charged with the crime.  Murray was found by the three men urinating in the hallway of the apartment building, and all three men claim that they were just trying to convince Murray to clean up the mess.  Dean Fuller reports that Murray “blew a gasket and attacked us.”  Dean and Stephan tied Murray up with a rope and called the police, but when they arrived he was already dead.  A city official said that the medical examiner’s report, as to the cause of death, is still being investigated.  A relative of Murray’s, Monique Murray-Harrington, claims that the men strangled her cousin and wants “these men to pay for what they did to my cousin.  He did not deserve to leave us like that.” 

Glen Burnie, Maryland
16 Year-old Boy Beats Homeless Man to Death with Baseball Bat

April 29: Brian Michael Myers, 49, was beaten to death with an aluminum baseball bat by a teenager, Christian John Schellenschlager Jr, 16. In a Capital Online report, police state that after a brief argument, Mr. Schellenschlager went and got the bat, moved toward Mr. Myers from behind, and struck him in the head. Mr. Myers was taken to a Baltimore hospital and passed away on May 14. Mr. Schellenschlager was initially charged with premeditated first-degree murder, but those charges were downgraded to second-degree murder after a grand jury declined to indict him. Mr. Schellenschlager will be tried as a Juvenile, where he is pleading self defense.

 

MAY

West Palm Beach, Florida
Two homeless men killed in two separate incidences in one week

May 17: In West Palm Beach, Florida, there have been two different homeless men slain during the course of a week.  One man, Rolando Longoria, 27, was riding his bicycle in a shopping plaza and was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting; eye witnesses report the shooter being male driving a black car. Police say that Longoria had a confrontation with the driver behind the Starfish Game Room located in the West Palm Plaza.  Sheriff spokeswoman Teri Barbara said detectives believe there were witnesses in the area. 

Prior to the shooting, the Medical Examiner’s Office performed an autopsy on a homeless man; the report ruled the cause of death “homicide” due to a fatal gunshot wound. The victim, David Roland Ulmer, 41, was found by a woman at about 10:50 am. It is believed that the two incidents may be related.

Isla Vista, California
Homeless Man Severely Beaten

May 31: 53 year-old Gregory Ghan was found to be severely beaten in front of the Isla Vista Neighborhood Clinic, a facility that treats uninsured and underprivileged people.  “Someone repeatedly said, ‘Why do you gotta kick somebody while they’re sleeping?’ A witness, known as Shadow, reported hearing a different male then said, “You want to fucking die?” Shadow claims to have heard a bottle breaking and saw a young man hopping around like a boxer and running off. Sometime afterward, a group of five people ran past the clinic entrance, and one reportedly said, ‘You’re messing with our frat brother.’”  Ghan was transported to the hospital, but died shortly thereafter.

 

JUNE

Jacksonville, North Carolina  
Homeless Man Endures Multiple Attacks; the Last is Fatal

June 23: Mike Kozak, 41, was found June 23rd in the woods behind Piney Green Shopping Center in Jacksonville North Carolina, stateedical examiner Dr. Cynthia Gardner reports that he died of “multiple blunt and sharp force trauma injuries to the head and torso.”  After further investigation, it has become know that Kozak’s stomach was cut open with a beer bottle and his “guts were ripped out”.  His attackers, Jason Allen Blackmon, 21, Jay Oldaker, 28, and Dustin Newcome, 23, were arrested for murder. Oldaker pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in February and promised to testify in the trial. He received a sentence of 12 ½ to 16 years in prison. Newcome pleaded guilty in April to second-degree murder in April and was sentenced to 24 to 29 years in prison. Blackmon pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. He received a sentence of 37 ½ to 46 ½ years in prison.  Police report that the three men were acquainted with Kozak prior to his attack.  Kozak, who had a home with his sister, chose to live in the woods behind Jeff’s Automotive on Piney Greene Road and according to the owner Jeff Santiago, he “never bothered anyone.”  Employees working at USA Discounters said that Kozak’s dog would not stop barking and eventually someone went to check on Kozak, who was found dead.  David Maready, who lives in Piney Green and knew Kozak, said that a week before his death he had been beaten very badly, and that he “had black eyes and it looked like his nose had been broken.”  However, these injuries were unrelated to his attack.

Cleveland, Ohio
Mother’s Heart is Broken, when Homeless Son is Brutally Murdered

June 25: At least three teenagers brutally beat Anthony Waters, 42, in Cleveland, Ohio on June 25th 2008.  Waters was on his way to visit his mother who lives in the area, taking side streets because he fears harassment from local residents.  A security camera outside G&M Towing Company, where the beating took place, caught passing cars slowing down as they saw Waters being attacked, but nobody stopped to help until employees at G&M ran to Waters’ aid.  Waters’ mother, Joyce Watkins, says that her son has been battling alcoholism and that he often stayed at a men’s shelter near her house, but that they always stayed in contact with each other. “He may have been hurting himself with his drinking, but he would never do anything to hurt another person,” his mother said.  “This is ridiculous and I can’t understand why they would beat him like that.  My heart is broken.”  Lt. Thomas Stacho, a Cleveland Police Department spokesman said that the attackers appeared to be between the ages of 13-18 and all wore white shirts.  Waters suffered from a lacerated spleen and broken ribs, He later died at a hospital. 

 

JULY

Boston, Massachusetts
Homeless Veteran Killed in Middle of Marketplace During the Day

July 4: Timothy Finch, 40, a homeless veteran, was killed in Boston.  Despite the attack taking place in broad daylight, many people who were in the area said that they didn’t see anything or hadn’t heard about the incident.  According to an article by the Boston Globe, Lee Diamond, a 20 year-old who frequents the area where the attack took place, says that there are a lot of homeless people in the area but “its like, ‘Don’t ask, Don’t tell,’ most people walking by wouldn’t stop and look.  You’d just keep walking.”  Police are searching for clues as to what happened to Finch, and have been asking witnesses and people in the area on the day of the attack.  One witness, as reported by the Globe, said that she saw four men beating Finch, one of them holding a sack that looked as though it was filled with a solid object.  Elaine Driscoll, a spokeswoman for the Boston Police Department, says that “every homicide is of great concern to us, but certainly when one occurs in broad daylight we find it troubling.”  Finch has been reported as registering at a homeless shelter a number of years ago, and in 2001 he enrolled in a program at the New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans, but advocates say that they haven’t seen him since 2005 when he returned for emergency shelter. 

San Pablo, California
Homeless Man Shot in Park in Broad Daylight

July 15: 20-year-old Ryan Hutchins was shot in the head in Davis Park at 4:57 p.m. in San Pablo, CA. Hutchins was immediately rushed to a near-by medical center, but he died the following day. Two people were arrested for the crime, Brandon Christopher Loveyaeger, 22, and India Coleman, 37. Both San Pablo residents were charged with homicide. Police Detective Bradley Lindobolm stated that witnesses identified Coleman as being present at the shooting. Loveyaeger turned himself in soon thereafter and was identified as the shooter.

Richmond, California
Homeless Woman Beat to Death

July 23: 50 year-old Leslie Valdez, a homeless woman, was found badly beaten on Fifth Street and taken to a local medical center. She died four days later. Police are currently pursuing two individuals, 23 year-old Richmond residents Joaquin Orozco and Alexis Renney, who are prime suspects in the case. Investigators believe two additional youths were also accomplices in the crime.

 

AUGUST

Panama City, Florida
Teen Stabs man to Death

August 2: Jose Gonzalez, 17, has been charged with 1st degree murder and faces a life in prison sentence. Gonzalez was convicted for stabbing Timothy Humphries, 49, to death one evening. He is said to have pulled Humphries off his bike when he was on his way to his cousin’s house.

New York, New York
Homeless Man Brutally Attacked Outside Sikh Temple

August 8: The victim, who was in his 50s, was found dead outside the Sikh temple in Queens around 6 a.m. The man’s face was unrecognizable due to the fact that it had been beaten with a broomstick. The blows to his face were not fatal; however, a stab wound did prove to be the cause of death. People living in the area said that they had previously seen teenagers hassling the victim; although, it is unknown if there is any connection between these two events. There is no information known on the attackers, but there was a bloody footprint left that the police will use to further their investigation.
Pontiac, Michigan
A Group of Teenagers Attack Two Homeless Men

August 26: Three teenage boys between the ages of 14 and 15, who all attended Jefferson Middle School, attacked two homeless men in a span of three days. Two of the boys were identified as Thomas J. McCloud Jr., and Dontez Marc Tillman. The first victim, Wilford Hamilton, died of head injuries a couple days later when he was taken off life support. Another homeless man, Heffern Hoffman, 65, was attacked the following day, he became unconscious from the beating and went into a coma. He was brought to the hospital to undergo surgery. On October 14, Hoffman died after being in a vegetative state since August.

According to Kevin Braddock, the police spokesman, “just the severity of the crime, the injuries, they’re brutal for juveniles”. After they attacked the two homeless men, they also attacked two pedestrians. The pedestrians’ ages were 33 and 52. The three teenagers were caught, and were charged with the first-degree murder of Wilford Hamilton. Thomas McCloud, who was charged in the killing of Heffern Hoffman, was charged as an adult in the beating death of Mr. Willford Hamiton. Both teens are currently being held without bail.  If convicted, the boys could face life in prison.

St. Louis, Missouri
Homeless Man Killed at Bus Stop

August 31: A homeless man who appeared to be in his 60’s was attacked during the night at a south St. Louis bus stop. The man, who has yet to be identified, died, and may have suffered a heart attack during the attack. Gregory Bean, who witnessed the attack, saw that the victim was punched in the head and in the stomach. The perpetrator of the crime has not yet been identified.

 

SEPTEMBER

North Little Rock, Arkansas
Homeless Man Beaten to Death with Baseball Bat

September 27: Homeless man Anthony Patterson, 50, was found beaten, bloodied and dead on Main St. of the upscale Argenta section of North Little Rock. Police followed a trail of blood to the house of Donald Scott Grace, 50, and found him with blood still on his clothes and the bloody bat in the foyer. According to Patty Lindemann of Hunger Free Arkansas, Grace was arrested and charged with pre-meditated murder. 

However, after the crime was committed, the Argenta community was outraged at the bail posted for the crime. North Little Rock District Judge Jim Hamilton set Grace’s bail at $25,000, which was one of the lowest for a homicide in the local court’s history. It was one of only two bails set below $100,000 for a homicide since 2006.  Currently charged with first-degree murder, Grace awaits trial.  

 

OCTOBER

Los Angeles, California 
Homeless Man Set on Fire and Burned to Death

October 9: John Robert McGraham, 55, a homeless man, was drenched in gasoline and set on fire at 9:30 p.m. on the side of the road on 3rd Street in the Mid-Wilshire area. He was brought to a hospital and then pronounced dead.  Benjamin Martin, 30, was linked to the murder by DNA evidence and witness accounts.  Deputy Chief Charlie Beck commented on Martin’s motive saying Martin had, “straight-up personal dislike and little bit of crazy” toward homeless people. McGraham, or simply “John”, as he was known to many in the community, was said to have never bothered anyone and rarely asked for money, according to the Los Angeles Times. On the evening of Sunday, October 12, a group of 200 plus people gathered at the spot where McGraham was killed and created a memorial for him at the site. 

 

NOVEMBER

Long Beach, California
Five Homeless Gunned Down

November 1: Five victims were gunned to death in a homeless “hot spot” off interstate 405 in Long Beach California on Saturday November 1st.  Alongside bags of belongings, were four unrelated and homeless victims.  It was later found that victim Vanessa Malaepule lived with her mother and six children.  The shooting took place sometime between late afternoon and night, according to a compilation of witness accounts.  “Some neighbors reported hearing gunfire, yelling and a car speeding off,” reported Thomas Watkins of The Associated Press.  Three men and two women were found dead the next day, and “some had been shot more than once”. Identified victims include: Lorenzo Perez Villicana, 46, and Vanessa Malaepule, 35, Katherine Lynn Verdun, 24, Frederick Doyle Neumeier, 53, and Hamid Shraifat, 41.  The suspects remain unknown, however were considered armed; “the people who did this were not homeless.”  On the events, Commander Farinelli of the Long Beach Police Department commented that, “violence against and among homeless people had long been a problem”.  And for Don Morgan, Long Beach resident and friend of the five victims, the tragedy was “a case (that) shines a light on violence against the homeless,” a case that will hopefully make the public more aware.      

San Antonio, Texas
Homeless Man Burned to Death by Two Teenagers

November 19: 18 year-old Juan Gutierrez and 19 year-old Carlos Portillo were out partying the night of the 19th of November before they stabbed, beat, and eventually burned an innocent homeless San Antonio man to death.  Johnny Pena was a barber three years ago before he hit the streets.  Minding mostly to himself, Johnny was considered by his neighbors to be harmless.  That night, authorities say, “he was sleeping in an alley when two teenagers encountered him”.  At that time, Gutierrez and Portillo continued to, “kick Pena repeatedly, stabbed him with a pocketknife, and then hit him with a metal pipe”.  Before he died, Johnny was doused with flammable liquid and lit on fire.  Gutierrez and Portillo have been charged with the murder. 

 

DECEMBER

Washington, District of Columbia
Frequent December Attacks on Homeless

December 24: Yoshio Nakada, 61, was murdered in his sleep this Christmas Eve.  With chop wounds splitting his fractured skull, it is believed Nakada suffered blows to the head from a hatchet.  Often characterized as “sweet in nature” and ‘sweetest of all people”, Nakada was found dead due to head injuries near the Watergate Complex in Washington DC.  Of the 2, 859 recorded homeless individuals in the D.C. area, 34 % say they have fallen victim to some type of violent crime.  Currently there is a $25,000 reward for information about the one responsible for Yoshio Nakada’s death. 


CONTENTS: Main page | pdf of full report | Acknowledgements | Dedication | Executive Summary | Purpose, Methodology, and Previous Reports | Introduction | Historical Summary of Hate Crimes/Violence Data for 1999-2008 | Summary of Hate Crimes/Violence Data in 2008 | Summary of Teen/Young Adult Involvement in Hate Crimes/Violent Acts | Summary of Ages of the Accused versus Ages of the Victims | Summary of Victims Who Were Middle-Aged | Cities where Hate Crimes/Violence Occurred in 2008 | Map of Cities where Hate Crimes/Violence Occurred in 2008 | States where Hate Crimes/Violence Occurred in 2008 | Map of States where Hate Crimes/Violence Occurred in 2008 | Cities Where Hate Crimes/Violence Occurred – 1999-2008 | Map of Cities Where Hate Crimes/Violence Occurred – 1999-2008 | Comparison of Hate Crime Homicides vs. Lethal Attacks on Homeless Individuals | National Media Coverage of Hate Crimes/Violent Acts Against Homeless People | Video Exploitation of Homeless People | Recognizing Anti-Homeless Violence as Hate Crime, by Brian Levin | Legislation | Recommendations for Action | Model City/County/State Legislation/Resolutions | Adopted City/County/State Legislation/Resolutions | Public Education Initiatives | Listing of Incidents by City | Case Descriptions Involving Deaths | Case Descriptions Involving Non-Lethal Rape/Sexual Assault | Case Descriptions Involving Non-Lethal Setting on Fire | Case Descriptions Involving Non-Lethal Beatings | Case Descriptions Involving Non-Lethal Shootings | Case Descriptions Involving Non-Lethal Police Harassment/Brutality | Appendix A: Sources | Appendix B: NCH Hate Crimes Public Service Ads |

 

 

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