“It was liquid. Hot liquid,” she said. “I was soaked. And it was coming off my eyelashes, into my eyes.”
Joel Grover and Amy Corral
Published Nov 11, 2019 at 11:14 PM | Updated at 10:21 AM PST on Nov 12, 2019
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A night near the Hollywood Walk of Fame would change a woman’s life, as she was getting into her car and a homeless man sprinted across Hollywood Boulevard toward her.
Heidi Van Tassel was parked in Hollywood after having a pleasant evening out with friends at an authentic Thai restaurant. Suddenly a man randomly pulled her out of the car, dragged her out to the middle of the street, and dumped a bucket of feces on her head, Van Tassel said and public records confirm.
“It was diarrhea. Hot liquid. I was soaked, and it was coming off my eyelashes and into my eyes,” Van Tassel 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.”
Van Tassel was rushed to Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital after the grotesque attack, where she was tested for infectious diseases caused by contact with feces. She’ll need to be retested every three months.
“It was all inside my car because it was so much. He just kept pouring it and splattering it all over me,” she said.
She said the Los Angeles Police Department told her they’d investigate the crime, but her phone calls to the department went unanswered.
Van Tassel said the police also promised to have their victims’ advocate reach out to her to offer services. She said she never got a call.
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“It’s so traumatic. The PTSD that I’m dealing with is beyond anything that I’ve ever felt,” Van Tassel said. “There needs to be some kind of help for the victims of these crimes.”
The man who attacked her, identified in court records as Jere Blessings, was charged with battery and taken to jail. Blessings was described as a transient with “schizophrenia and psychotic disorders,” records show.
“He doesn’t need jail time. He needs mental health care,” Van Tassel said. “I have empathy for him. Because he needs help.”
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Jere Blessings got help, but only for two months. He was sent by a judge to a residential facility for people with mental health issues, and released in August.
Security footage from businesses nearby captured the attack, and bodycam captured the aftermath as officers responded, but the LAPD and businesses would not release the footage, even when Van Tassel asked to see it.
“It was awful,” Van Tassel said through tears. “And it changed my life.”
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The Los Angeles City Attorney’s office said Blessings is now back in the community, which worries Van Tassel.
“I will never, ever, forget his face,” Van Tassel said. “What’s the next thing he’s going to do somebody? If he would’ve had a knife, for sure he would’ve stabbed me.”
Heather Navarro contributed to this report.