Florida sex offender accused of trying to burn lesbian couple and their children to death

By David Ferguson
Thursday, April 3, 2014 8:51 EDT
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Braulio Valenzuela via screencap
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A 73-year-old man in northwest Miami is accused of attempting to murder a lesbian couple and their children by setting fire to their home while they slept in what police are calling a hate crime. Miami’s WSVN said that Braulio Valenzuela-Villanueva reportedly set fire to a mattress leaning against the women’s trailer in the early hours of Saturday morning.

LaTania Dansey, her partner Norma Beteta Fonseca and their eight children escaped from the burning trailer unharmed. Dansey said that she is grateful to be alive.

“I feel good that they are OK, and we’re OK too,” she told WSVN.

“I saw flashing light. Then I heard crackling,” she said, and was therefore able to get the children out in time.

Miami police told CBS News that surveillance footage caught Valenzuela-Villanueva — who is a registered sex offender — as he left his house at around 4:30 a.m. and set the mattress ablaze.

He later denied to police that he set the fire, but admitted to officers that he “despised the two adult victims for the simple fact that they were lesbians” and that he felt “deep repugnance” when he saw them displaying affection toward each other. He also said that he does not believe that the women should have children.

As the family fled their burning home, neighbors raised the alarm, but Valenzuela-Villanueva watched impassively from in front of his own trailer, “casually observing the fire,” the arrest report said. A neighbor had to verbally prod him before he would move to fetch a garden hose.

Valenzuela-Villanueva is currently being held on $230,000 bond. He has been charged with 10 counts of attempted second-degree murder — one for each person in the trailer — and one count of arson.

The Miami Herald reported that Monday’s arrest of Valenzuela-Villanueva was his tenth since 1994.

“Other charges include burglary, grand theft and retail theft. The state records also show he was first arrested for fondling a child in 1994, but the charges were dropped,” said the paper.

“Then in September 1999, Valenzuela-Villanueva was charged with kidnapping, false imprisonment and indecent exposure to a child under 13,” the paper continued. “He was later charged with molesting a child in 2006, and arrested again in 2011 for failing to register as a sex offender.”

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David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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