Many of the relationships between homeless men and women living near U.S. Route 1—which includes the wooded area in North Laurel where a —are violent, say advocates for the homeless.
Richard Rodola, 50, is charged with first-degree murder and assault in the death of Pamela Myers, 37. She was found in the woods near the 9100 block of Washington Blvd. in North Laurel on Oct. 23, 2010. Police have said that she and Rodola were living there and were in a relationship.
She later died at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore.
His trial is currently underway in Howard County Circuit Court.
Andrea Ingram, executive director of , a Columbia-based shelter that offers services to those in need, said about 75 homeless people are living along Route 1, which goes through North Laurel. Eighty percent of the homeless population there are men, and 20 percent are women, she said.
In the winter, people living there use cold weather shelters, including the , that runs through March 25, she said.
“Most of those women are in a relationship with someone who’s also homeless,” Ingram said. “The staff and volunteers working with folks every day have the impressions that many of those relationships are violent.”
Ingram said violence is a “co-occurring” condition to homelessness, meaning many in the homeless population have an addiction problem, and similar to the general population, most domestic violence occurs when there is alcohol involved, she said.
Rodola’s attorney said during the trial Tuesday that Myers's death was an accident. He said Rodola poured gasoline on her to “scare Myers, but he never flicked the flame that killed her,” according to the Howard County Times.
Myers died Nov. 18 after being hospitalized. The Times reported that she needed eight surgeries for burns over 52 percent of her body.
The trial in Howard County Circuit Court is expected to last 7 to 10 days, according to officials from the Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office.