Community gathers to remember beloved homeless man beaten to death

Reporter: Morgan Rynor
Published: Updated:
Juan Sebastian (provided to WINK News)

He was like a grandfather to some, a friend to many and now, a murder victim.

Juan Sebastian is the Arcadia man who was beaten to death while sleeping on a bench.

Now, police are one step closer to getting him justice.

Investigators arrested three men Saturday that they believe are responsible for the murder.

Police say the men, for 15 minutes, held down Sebastian, punched and beat him before leaving him to die.

Monday morning, one of the suspects, Brett Johnston, faced a judge in an Arcadia courtroom.

He joins Kyle Johnston and Gary Stanka. All three men face second-degree murder charges.

Monday, the community gathered to remember Sebastian: the homeless man famous for walking miles down the main stretch of road in Arcadia every day with his dog, Cheeto.

“We had a really good turnout,” said. “A lot of people did come out for it, and I think it was kind of, maybe, Juan’s way of letting us know he’s okay because that’s when they made the arrest. They made the arrest that same day.”

Three people, now behind bars for the murder.

“This saddens your heart that things like this would happen in your own hometown,” said.

For two weeks, from the time of the beating until his final breath, community members like Tammy Ramos, who considered Sebastian a grandfather, never left his side.

“Me. Every day. Fourteen days…and then, once they decided to transfer him to hospice, I never left his side; I didn’t go home to eat; didn’t sleep,” Ramos said.

While the news of the arrests is welcome, Ramos says they’re not surprised.

“Word on the street was initially, from the second day it happened, that’s who it was,” Ramos said. Why? “The homeless men,” she said, “They were just afraid to talk because they’re exposed. They live in the woods. If they talk, what if the police doesn’t get to the people they say who did it?”

She says there are still more questions than answers. “He had money on him. They didn’t take it. Like, I’d like to know why they did it. What was the reasoning? Was it just to feel what it was like to beat somebody? Or was it a hate crime?”

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