Sleeping, homeless man in van burned

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MASTIC, N.Y. (AP) – A homeless man was severely burned over almost half his body when the van in which he was sleeping caught fire, police said.

The man, who also might have been beaten and stabbed, was found Sunday morning by a manager of a laundry near where the van was parked.

The manager, Linda Scaturro, said she smelled smoke coming from the back of the building and saw the van, in which the homeless man kept his belongings, on fire. She said the man, Steve Caulo, who often spent nights in the van, was nearby taking off his burning clothes.

Scaturro, who called 911, said the man mumbled to her, “They beat me up.”

Suffolk County police said the man, whose name they wouldn’t confirm, had second- and third-degree burns plus a facial injury and a possible abdominal stab wound indicating he might have been assaulted.

Scaturro said the homeless man is “a goodhearted person” well known in Mastic and Shirley.

“He would never hurt anyone,” she said. “Whoever did this is really cruel.”

Investigators wouldn’t comment on how the van caught fire and said they didn’t know who might have wanted to attack the homeless man. They said they had no witnesses and couldn’t talk to the man because of the medical treatment he was receiving.

The man, in his 40s, was in critical condition in a hospital burn unit on Monday.

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