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Homeless Woman Set on Fire

busfirewpPolice arrested a man after he allegedly set a 67-year-old homeless woman on fire while she slept on a bus bench in Van Nuys. She was hospitalized in critical condition.

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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.

VAN NUYS, Calif. (KTLA) –A man arrested for allegedly setting a homeless woman on fire while she slept on a Van Nuys bus bench is believed to be mentally ill, police said.

The attack left a 67-year-old homeless woman, known to area residents as Flo Parker, in critical condition. She was also known as Violet.

It happened around 1 a.m. Thursday in front of a Walgreens store at the corner of Van Nuys Boulevard and Sherman Way.

Police say Dennis Petillo, 24, doused the woman in rubbing alcohol and then set her on fire.

“There was no incident or dispute or clear motivation for this horrific attack. He did not know his victim. It defies explanation,” said LAPD Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese.

“He is not of sound mind…. The motive is mental illness,” Albanese added.

Witness Dennis Ipina said he saw the suspect walk out of Walgreens with what appeared to be rubbing alcohol.

“He just poured it all over the old lady,” Ipina said. “Then he threw the match on her and started running.”

Ipina said he chased after the man and called 911 from his cell phone. He also said that he was threatened by the suspect with a knife.

Police arrested Ipina a short time later. He was booked on suspicion  of attempted murder and was being held on $500,000 bail.

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

VAN NUYS, Calif. (KTLA) — A woman was hospitalized in critical condition and a suspect was arrested after she was set on fire while sleeping on a bus bench in Van Nuys.

It happened around 1 a.m. near the corner of Van Nuys Boulevard and Sherman Way.

The victim, a 67-year-old homeless woman who frequented the area, was sleeping on a bus bench outside a Walgreens store.

Police have not released her name, but locals identified her as Violent Parker.

According to witnesses, Dennis Petillo, 24, went into the Walgreens and bought some rubbing alcohol, then walked out and doused the woman.

van-nuys-suspect“He went inside to the Walgreens store, bought alcohol and then he just poured it all over the old lady,” said witness Erickson Ipina.

“Then he threw the match on her and started running,” he recalled.

Ipina chased after the suspect and called 911 from his cell phone.

Petillo was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder. He is no stranger to the law, court records show.

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

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