SW Missouri man charged in death of homeless woman

Friday, May 4, 2007

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) -- A southwest Missouri man was charged Thursday with second-degree murder after allegedly attacking a homeless woman with a hatchet.

Aaron Michael Letterman, 24, of Nixa, is also charged with armed criminal action. He turned himself in to police on Wednesday and is being held in Greene County Jail on a $500,000 bond.

Letterman is accused of killing Tyla Rhodelander, 44, of Lebanon, a homeless woman whom he had met on Saturday.

According to a probable cause statement, Letterman's uncle, Michael Humphrey, told police that his nephew asked her if she needed a place to stay. The two men then helped Rhodelander pitch a tent in a homeless camp in Springfield.

Humphrey said Letterman wanted to have sex with Rhodelander and spent several hours with her in the tent, the statement said. Eventually, Humphrey said Letterman took out a hatchet and repeatedly struck the woman in the head, leaving her body in the tent.

An autopsy showed that Rhodelander died from blunt force trauma to the head.

Information from: Springfield News-Leader, http://www.news-leader.com

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