San Diego

‘So Nice And So Sweet': Friend Remembers Victim in Homeless Attacks

"He was so sweet and so nice," his close friend told NBC 7 San Diego.

The close friend of a young, recently homeless man killed after a brutal attack remembered him as "so sweet and so nice," tearing up as she remembered the circumstances leading up to his death. 

"I just feel like ... something," said Chelsea Lacy of her friend Dionicio Derek Vahidy, 23, of San Diego. "At least we could have done something to get him off of the streets to make things better for him."

Police found Vahidy with extensive damage to his upper body Wednesday, and police later determined Vahidy had been physically attacked and set on fire. He was taken to a hospital in grave condition and pronounced dead several days later, on Sunday. 

Lacy said Vahidy was staying with his aunt and sister right before the attack. His sister was trying to get him to stay with them that night. 

She said his sister has told her she misses her brother and wants justice.

"She just loves him and misses her brother more than anything in the world," Lacy said. "Her brother got taken away from her at a really young age. I know she did mention ... She just can't believe it. Nobody can believe it. Nobody can."

Lacy said she may never know why Vahidy decided to go back to sleeping on the streets that night.

"I don't understand what was going on, or how any of that had happened, or why he was out there," she said.

She said Vahidy was a University High graduate with the class of 2012 and went to Mesa College. They were close friends, but late last month, he had stopped answering her calls and texts, so she decided to let it be. 

"It's sad to me because I saw on the news his last words were 'God Bless You and may God be with you, and that's just crazy," Lacy said, breaking down.

Vahidy's death brings the death toll to three. Investigators said they believe the death was related to a series of attacks on homeless men that occurred between July 3 and July 4. Two others have died and a third is in grave condition. Read more about the attacks here.

Thursday, Anthony Padgett was arrested as a suspect in the series of attacks. On Monday, homicide investigators said they have evidence to exclude Padgett as a suspect.

Capt. David Nisleit said they made the right decision arresting Padgett on Thursday based on his similarity to the suspect seen in store surveillance video and his past conviction of lighting someone on fire.

Lacy said Vahidy was one of those people who she could talk to about anything. 

"He was so sweet and so nice. Even to other people when he was homeless," Lacy said.

Lacy said she's still struggling with the news because they always did everything together. 

"He had so many close friends," Lacy said. "That's why it hurts so much because we ALL could have helped him out in any way. He could have stayed with me. At any time. I would have been more than willing to take him in."

The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information related to this incident is encouraged to call the San Diego Police Department’s Homicide Unit at (619) 531-2293 or Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.

No other information was immediately available.

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