MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Police in Miami are searching for the person responsible for beating a homeless woman to death early Tuesday morning.

Investigators identified the victim as 51-year-old Lavita Anthony.

Those who knew her said she frequented Camillus House on and off over the last 15 years.

“It’s a very sad day for us,” said Paul Ahr, President and CEO of Camillus House. “We’d rather shelter the homeless than bury the dead. She’s one of ours.”

Anthony was found beaten to death not far from the downtown Miami shelter early Tuesday morning, her body found lifeless on the sidewalk along Northwest 17th Street near 7th Court.

“It’s just horrible. All this crazy talk and violence going on. I guess she was in horrible health and they beat her to death,” Michael Rickles said.

People on the street described the attack as vicious.

“They stomped her head on the ground, broke her neck and all that,” one man said.

But the victim’s friends say she was not a violent person.

“She would not harm anybody,” Anthony Anderson said. Anderson said he often gave the victim a place to stay.

As investigators try to sort out what sparked the deadly violence and who is responsible, some members of the homeless community are on edge.

“That affects me. That lets me know if it wasn’t for the grace of God that could have been me,” Anderson said.

“Our concern is how can we help the folks who live on the street feel safe. This is a very unsettling turn of events,” Ahr explained.

Anyone with information about the brutal beating is urged to call Miami-Dade Crimestoppers at 305-471-TIPS.


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