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A Los Angeles woman who said she is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a homeless man poured a container of feces on her head recently discussed the sordid ordeal with celebrity physician Dr. Drew Pinsky.
Heidi Van Tassel appeared on KABC radio’s “Dr. Drew Midday Live” on Friday, where Pinsky predicted L.A. would see a rise in similar, sensational crimes committed by homeless individuals, many of whom have untreated mental illnesses or substance abuse disorders.
“These kinds of random attacks that seem truly crazy and violent are going to increase in frequency because the people that are deteriorating in our streets are getting sicker and sicker and sicker,” Pinsky said. “It is the sort of dramatic stories that finally captures peoples’ attention.”
Van Tassel said the incident occurred about six months ago. However, the story made national headlines last week after a local television station broadcast an investigation on the city’s growing homeless epidemic. The report revealed that a vagrant had dragged Van Tassel out of her car and doused her with “a bucket of hot diarrhea” near the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
“His face was so scary because he didn’t say a thing,” Van Tassel told Pinsky. “I thought I was going to die. I thought I was going to get raped or stabbed.”
“He pulled me out by my shirt into the street, and he proceeded to pour what looked like a bucket that you wash your floor with, but on the outside it looked like an old Folger’s can,” Van Tassel recalled. “It was full of his feces, and it was liquid … I say hot because it felt hot on my face … he kept pouring and pouring it on me, and then he ran away.”
Partial transcript as follows:
Heidi Van Tassel: “The police came and detained him, and then the firemen came. I had to have all of my clothes peeled off of me because I was soaked. And they put it in a bag that they’ve probably burned or something.”
Dr. Drew: “Yeah, a biohazard bag.”
Van Tassel: “They had to hose me down. They made like a makeshift curtain. It was insane; I got hosed down on Hollywood Boulevard …”
“It’s dramatic, but it’s not unusual,” Pinsky went on to tell his audience. “He could have just as easily acted out on himself, or somebody else in some sort of paranoid state. This is not unheard of. The problem is, if you leave people with those illnesses on the street to deteriorate, they will deteriorate. These are totally treatable conditions.”
Van Tassel said there should also be help for the victims of these crimes as she’s still coping with the trauma associated with the attack. Pinsky referred her to a local counseling center for evaluation.
According to NBC4, Van Tassel’s assailant was identified as Jere Blessings, described in public records as a “transient” with “schizophrenia and psychotic disorders.” He was charged with battery, taken to jail, sent to a mental health residential facility for two months, and is now “back on the streets” after being deemed mentally unfit to stand trial.
Dr. Pinsky lashed out at elected officials for failing to take necessary actions to improve the quality of life in L.A., telling Van Tassel, “they don’t care, they’d rather maintain a theology” and “take money from developers.” He advocated for mandated care for mentally ill homeless people.
“Everybody suffers because of this foolishness,” Pinsky said. “I’m going to bet that man has a family that would take him back, house him, and treat him, and pay for the treatment. I’m going to bet. But instead, he deteriorates into a monster on the street. That is not who he is. That’s what that illness is, left unchecked.”