Friday, February 16, 2007

Homeless woman doused
with gasoline and burned alive

Leslie "Jill" May, shown in a photo from 2004, has now become one of the most dismaying tragedies of San Francisco’s pervasive homeless culture.

In a crime prosecutors say showed "exceptional depravity," two San Francisco women stand accused of dousing a longtime homeless woman with gasoline and burning her alive in an apparent witness retaliation slaying.

Last fall, with the assistance of the city, Leslie "Jill" May, 49, and her partner (and one-time pimp) Ricky Smith finally got permanent housing, but May still spent her days out on the street using drugs.

"It's horrible. It's a tragedy," said Fire Department paramedic Capt. Niels Tangherlini, who heads a city outreach team working with San Francisco's hard-core homeless population. "It's really sad -- we feel like we invested our heart and soul in her situation. We felt her situation was finally improving. Then the street can reach and grab some people."

Read the San Francisco Chronicle story here.

"... the street can reach and grab some people:" Two of my homeless clients here in Orlando are worrying me these days. One wants desperately to get off the street, but he has some issues that make it very hard to find a place for him. The other could go into shelter (if not more permanent housing) tonight, if only I could convince her to go.

I fear the street will grab one or both of them. When the phone rings late at night, I'm afraid someone is calling me to come and identify the body.


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