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3 Teens Arrested In Burning of Homeless Couple

August 28, 1987

NEW YORK (AP) _ Three teen-agers charged with torching a sleeping homeless couple in a Brooklyn park told detectives they ″liked to hassle the bums,″ and a fourth suspect was arrested today, police said.

Sean Sullivan, 17; James McDermott, 18; and Louis Palanca, 17, were arrested Thursday and charged with attempted murder in the attack, said police spokesman Sgt. Peter Sweeney.

The fourth suspect, Steven Losch, 18, turned himself into police this morning, according to police spokesman Detective Joseph McConville.

A tipster gave police the names of four teen-agers, said Inspector Edward Cappello. He said the three youths who were arrested implicated themselves, making the comments about hassling bums.

The inspector said the trio and another teen were drinking beer before they poured rubbing alcohol on 38-year-old Joseph Thomas shortly after 2 a.m. Wednesday. Thomas awoke and chased them out of the park.

The four got into a car, drove to a gas station, picked up a quart of gasoline in a plastic container, and drove back to the park, according to Cappello.

They came back 15 minutes later and poured the gasoline over Jerry Grayson, 25, and Bernadette Crowley, 26, set the couple afire and fled, Cappello said. Grayson was treated for burns and released at the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center burn unit. Ms. Crowley, who was burned on about 7 percent of her body, was listed in stable condition at the center.

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