Local News

Man Charged in Torching of Homeless Woman in Van Nuys

van-nuys-suspectVAN NUYS, Calif. (KTLA) — Prosecutors have charged a man suspected of setting a homeless woman on fire in Van Nuys with attempted murder.

Dennis Petillo, 24, of Van Nuys, is also charged with aggravated mayhem, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said.

He was expected to be arraigned Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court in Van Nuys.

Petillo is accused of dousing a homeless woman with rubbing alcohol while she slept on a bus bench and then setting her ablaze.

It happened early last Thursday morning outside a Walgreens store at Van Nuys Boulevard and Sherman Way.

Police have not released the victim’s name, but area residents identified her as 67-year-old Flo Parker, who was also known as Violet.

She remains hospitalized in critical but stable condition.

Investigators believe Petillo is mentally ill, and say there appeared to be no motive for the attack.

Prosecutors are requesting that his bail be set at $1 million. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Petillo has had previous run-ins with the law.

Since 2008, he has pleaded guilty twice to charges related to vehicle theft. The second time, he was sentenced to two years in prison.