Founder of Least of These Ministries speaks about recent deaths in homeless community

Local News

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — The founder of an organization that helps the homeless is remembering a man that was killed earlier this week.

Police say the victim in this week’s homicide was William English, and he was listed as a transient. English was shot and killed on Tuesday, July 7, along 4th Street SE, which is near the Roanoke Rescue Mission, approximately the same area where a homeless woman was killed in early March.

Dawn Sandoval, the Founder of Least of These Ministries, an organization that provides meals, toiletries and other necessities to the homeless community, worked with both of the victims and remembers them fondly. She described English as harmless, saying he never bothered anyone.

“We called him Wild Bill, but we knew him from serving him. We had been serving him about five years,” Sandoval said.

“I was just really blown away when I heard that he was the one that had been murdered because he was just a very passive man. Just didn’t create any issues with anybody,” she said.

Sandoval says she had no idea why anyone would want to hurt English.

“If it was someone who devalued him because he didn’t have a home…shame on them.”

Sandoval also knew Cassi Pizzi, the woman who was killed in the same area — and found on the same street as English and the Roanoke Rescue Mission — a few months before.

“I had just seen her, served her lunch the day that she was murdered,” Sandoval said. “She was just a delightful young woman. Always smiling. Cute as a button.”

Kevin Berry, marketing manager for Roanoke Rescue Mission, says the shelter serves as a safe space for the homeless community.

“When you come here you are a full human and we will make sure that you feel that way. You will feel safe. You’re going to feel loved. You’re going to feel encouraged. And we’re going to drive you to the success that you deserve,” Berry said.

Both cases are still ongoing and no arrests have been made. At this time, police don’t believe the cases are related.

Sandoval says she hopes someone isn’t preying on people suffering from homelessness, and she hopes whoever committed these crimes is brought to justice.

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