Santa Ana

Man Accused of Killing 76-Year-Old Homeless Woman

Rosendo Xo Pec, 22, is accused of killing the woman during a suspected robbery.

A 22-year-old man remained jailed Tuesday as Santa Ana police and prosecutors went over evidence in the apparently robbery- motivated killing of a 76-year-old transient woman on New Year's Day.

Rosendo Xo Pec, 22, was behind bars Tuesday on suspicion of killing Betty Jane Willis. He was being held without bail, according to jail records.

Police received multiple 911 calls as Willis shouted for help as she was being attacked about 4:10 a.m., Monday, in a parking lot at 1605 W. First St., according to Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna.

The attack happened near a homeless encampment, Bertagna said.

"She doesn't know him, he doesn't know her -- that's why they believe it was possibly a robbery," Bertagna said. "What actually occurred they're trying to figure out.

"We didn't locate any weapons so we're waiting for the autopsy to determine the official cause of death."

An autopsy is expected Wednesday or Thursday, Bertagna said.

Meanwhile, detectives will meet with a prosecutor to go over evidence before any charges may be filed.

Officers arrived at the crime scene within a few minutes, and when they got there they saw Pec "hiding in the bushes," Bertagna said.

The suspect ran from the officers "and he tried to go over a wall, but officers were able to detain him," Bertagna said.

Pec said he lives in the area, but detectives were working to determine a place of residence, Bertagna said.

Willis' relatives were "working diligently to get her off the streets" at the time of her death, Bertagna said.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect the victim's accurate age.

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