Crime - Sacto 911

Homeless man beaten at Roseville park dies of injuries

A homeless man who was beaten during a dispute with other homeless individuals Thursday in a Roseville park has died of his injuries.

Roseville police spokeswoman Dee Dee Gunther said police were notified Monday of the death of 35-year-old Josef Martin Graven. Four people who were arrested Thursday in connection with the beating remain in the Placer County Jail, accused of attempted murder and conspiracy. Gunther said the Placer County District Attorney’s Office has been notified of Graven’s death so that appropriate charges can be filed.

Officers responded at 8:04 a.m. Thursday to Saugstad Park, 100 Buljan Drive, regarding a report that a group of people were beating a man. The people involved were among some homeless and needy individuals who were gathered at the park waiting for a regulary scheduled free breakfast, served by a local charitable organization, police said.

Officers found Graven unconscious on the ground with severe injuries from the beating. They also contacted another man, identified as 24-year-old Charles David Waldecker, who was nearby and had a stab wound in his back.

Police were told that Waldecker, who was also homeless, had been in a dispute with Graven for the past few days over property that he believed Graven had stolen from him. The two men got into a fight at the park and Graven allegedly stabbed Waldecker, causing a minor wound. Waldecker and three other people then allegedly attacked Graven, beating him until he lost consciousness.

Waldecker was treated at a hospital, then released to the custody of police. He was booked into Placer County Jail along with three other suspects: Matthew Russell Alfonso, 29, and Joseph Alan Ray Smith, 30, both of Roseville; and Ninah Tyneil Winnie, 36, of Atwater. All are being held without bail.

Donna Gerhart, Graven’s cousin, said Graven was born in Carmichael and grew up in the Orangevale area, attending Casa Roble High School.

She said he had struggled with substance abuse problems and had been in and out of rehabilitation programs. Gerhart said family members tried to help him get settled, but he had been homeless off and on for about 10 years. She said the death of his mother about a year-and-a-half ago “put him over the edge.”

“He was a very nice, God-loving person,” she said. “He really tried to do the right thing.”