CORONA, Calif. (KABC) -- A homeless woman was killed in a brutal attack at a Corona store parking lot in broad daylight by a man who first stabbed her and then returned with a bat to viciously beat her to death, according to police and witnesses.
The woman was well known and liked in the community. She would sit at a bench near the store for hours every day reading her Bible and would refuse help from people who offered.
A suspect, later identified as Steven Loia, 54, was arrested thanks to a witness who followed him after the attack.
The attack happened Thursday around 11 a.m. in front of the 99 Cent Store at 725 S. Main St.
"Some crazy guy across the street just came out and started stabbing her repeatedly. Just bam, bam, bam," said Alesha Aquino, who witnessed the attack.
She said another man ran out from inside the store to help the victim.
But the attack wasn't over.
"The guy ran away and then all of a sudden he came back as she was bleeding to death, he came back with a bat and started beating her viciously over the head," Aquino said.
A witness followed the attacker afterward and helped lead police identify the suspect about two blocks east of the crime scene. Loia was arrested and booked for homicide.
The woman was transported to Corona Regional Hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Police are still trying to identify the woman's next of kin and have not released her name. But local residents say she was a well-known and beloved fixture in the community.
"I can speak for many Coronians - we always offered her help and she never took it because she said her Jesus provided all she needed," said Corona resident Trisha Duran.
Now an impromptu memorial of balloons, flowers and candles is growing at the site of the bench where she was often found and a candlelight vigil was held to honor her memory.
Corona police asked anyone with information to contact Detective Jesse Jurado at 951-279-3628 or Jesse.Jurado@DiscoverCorona.com.
Corona homeless woman killed in brutal attack with knife, bat