A homeless man was recently charged with killing a now homeless former 1960s soul singer, Betty Jane Willis, according to Fox News. The murder came during an attempted rape in California on New Year's Day.
The killer, Rosendo Xo Pec, 22, was charged on Wednesday with murder with special circumstances. He could face the death penalty for the crime and his arraignment is slated for January 19, 2018.
According to Fox News, prosecutors identified the woman killed in a strip mall in Santa Ana. Police found her dead in the parking lot after she was killed by Pec, who was homeless during the time of her death.
The former singer had a tremendous career but soon fell into homelessness. She was sleeping in the parking lot when he began an attempted sexual assault and eventually murder. Willis apparently died after being punched in the head several times, along with other acts of violence against her. Despite being in a public parking lot, it doesn't appear that anybody came to her rescue.
One bystander did call the police, however, in order to alert them of the alleged assault. When police eventually arrived at the scene, they found the killer on top of the victim. The man attempted to flee but was quickly captured by the officers.
Willis did not survive the assault and died at the scene, according to Fox News.
According to the Associated Press, the homeless population in the United States increased in 2017 for the first time since 2010. This is in part driven by the number of people now living on the streets in Los Angeles and other West Coast cities.
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, nearly 554,000 homeless people throughout the country were recorded in 2017. That figure is up nearly 1% from 2016. Of that disturbing total, 193,000 people had absolutely no access to nightly shelter and instead stay in vehicles, tents, the streets, and other places that are usually considered to be uninhabitable.
The unsheltered figure is up more than 9% compared to two years ago.
US News writes that rents have soared beyond affordability for many low-wage workers, who just a few years ago could typically afford a place to stay.
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