Saturday, January 24, 2009

Motivation for killing was "straight-up personal dislike
and a little bit of crazy"

John McGraham, seen in April 2006, was doused with gasoline and burned to death Oct. 9 in Los Angeles. More than 300 people packed the church for his funeral.

A 30-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murdering a homeless man who was doused with a flammable liquid and set ablaze on a street corner last year.

The arrest of Benjamin Mathew Martin caps a nearly four-month search for suspects in a killing that outraged Los Angeles.

LAPD Deputy Chief Charlie Beck said Martin's alleged motivation for the killing appears to be "straight-up personal dislike and a little bit of crazy."

John Robert McGraham, 55, who once worked nearby as a bellman at the Ambassador Hotel, suffered from depression. For two decades he repeatedly spurned efforts of family members and others to remove him from the streets and obtain treatment for him.

When he was set afire, residents and shopkeepers rushed to extinguish the flames but were unable to save his life. McGraham's clothes had been burned off, his face blackened and swollen, the tips of his clenched fingers sloughed off.

Read the Los Angeles Times report here.


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