(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.
"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."
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.
"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."