By Barnini Chakraborty
Published November 12, 2019
A California woman claims she was assaulted by a homeless man who pulled her out of her car, dragged her into the middle of the street and poured a bucket of hot feces on her head.
Heidi Van Tassell described the disgusting incident to Fox News on Tuesday.
She said she was getting into her car after grabbing dinner with some friends near the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles when a 6'2" man, who appeared to be homeless, attacked her a few months ago.
"It was diarrhea. I was soaked, and it was coming off my eyelashes and into my eyes," Van Tassell said. "Paramedics who came to treat me said there was so much of it on me, that it looked like the man was saving it up for a month."
"It was diarrhea. I was soaked, and it was coming off my eyelashes and into my eyes."
She added that the feces got inside her car as well.
"He just kept pouring it and splattering it all over me," she told KNBC.
Then, she said he took off.
"He ran away and I couldn't see," she said during the emotional interview with Fox News. "I was stuck in the middle of the road on Hollywood Boulevard and nobody would stop."
Van Tassell said eventually a couple did stop and help her.
"The police came and they got the feces out of my eyes so I could sort of see," she said, adding that her attacker had returned and was standing across the street, staring her down.
She said firemen also were dispatched to the scene and had to "peel off all of my items of clothing because I am soaked in his feces."
Crews wrapped Van Tassell in a blanket and rushed her to Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital where she got tested for infectious diseases caused by contact with feces — something she said she'll have to do every three months.
The man who attacked her was identified in court records as Jere Blessings, a transient with "schizophrenia and psychotic disorders." Blessings was charged with battery and taken to jail.
Van Tassell, though, said Blessings would be better off under psychiatric care.
"He doesn't need jail time," she said. "He needs mental-health care. I have empathy for him because he needs help."
Blessings was found unfit to stand trial and released back on the streets, she said.
A media spokesperson for the Los Angles Police Department told Fox News that as shocking as Van Tassell's incident was, it's something that happens more often than many people may think.
Attacks in which a homeless person was the primary suspect have been growing across the Los Angeles area. Data from the Los Angeles Police Department showed that the number of arrests of homeless people so far in 2019 has been 6,677, up from 4,763 in 2017. The number of violent assault cases also went up to 2,496 in 2019 from 1,763 in 2017.
California has accounted for most of the country's homeless population. Despite throwing hundreds of millions of dollars at the problem, the number of homeless in Los Angeles County has risen for the third time in four years. The most recent count released in July by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority showed that nearly 60,000 homeless people have been living without permanent shelter on any given night. In the city of Los Angeles, the number of homeless in 2019 jumped 16 percent to about 36,000 while the number of chronically homeless – those who have been living on the streets for more than a year – rose 17 percent.
Following the attack, Van Tassell said she repeatedly called the Los Angeles Police Department for information on the case, but her calls went unanswered.
"It's so traumatic. The PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] that I'm dealing with is beyond anything that I've ever felt," she said. "There needs to be some kind of help for the victims of these crimes."
Fox News' Kevin Tracy contributed to this article.