Homeless advocates push for solutions after murder arrest


by MORGAN CHESKY / KVUE News and Photojournalist MATT OLSEN


Posted on October 1, 2012 at 10:11 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 2 at 7:27 AM

AUSTIN -- She was an Austin native, Bowie High School graduate and occasional chef. Valerie Godoy's 34 years of life tragically ended far from where they began.

Last June when officer's found her body in Duncan Park, a homicide scene soon followed.

Godoy was a frequent park visitor after falling into homelessness. On Monday Austin homicide detectives announced another common park-goer could be responsible. 

They arrested 41-year-old Jeffery Lee Howard for murder after evidence contradicted his alibi.

"He was believed to be in the area that night," said APD Sergeant Scott Ehlert. "We have received the results of some forensic testing that indicates that he is connected to the crime and that also discredits some of the information that he has given us."

"We're deeply invested and moved by the whole situation," said Richard Troxell, founder of House the Homeless. "When Valerie died we felt compelled to step forward, it's now or never."

The need for safe shelter space spurred Troxell to start a petition to expand the current women and children's shelter in hopes no one will be turned away.

"We come through and out of every institution you can imagine. And if every institution embraced that, what a different world it would be," said Troxell.

Troxell did get enough signatures on the petition to put it in front of Austin City Council members. They added it to Proposition 17, a health and human services bond package item on the ballot. It will be voted on next month.

If it passes, Troxell said it could also free up 30 beds at Austin's downtown Salvation Army.

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