MANTECA -- A humble tribute now stands near where Vietnam veteran Charles Smith had been killed.
"He did serve our country and what a terrible way to have to leave," Roads Home Veteran Case Manager Yvonne Derby-Wills said. "I was so sad. I hadn’t talked to him in a while and I had hoped to meet up with him."
Derby-Wills says Smith had been homeless, living in Manteca’s Library Park for at least two years. She says while Smith was sometimes rough around the edges, he had warmed up to her.
"And then he became kind of like either the grouchy guy or the happy guy. He was both and with me, he was always happy. He was a great guy," Derby-Wills said.
Derby-Wills says she was on the verge of securing housing and help for her friend -- before someone fatally stabbed him late at night on Aug. 15.
"I felt really bad and it’s like really close to my house, too," neighbor Debby Young said.
The Manteca Police Department says, so far, they have no suspects in custody, no suspect information and no motive.
But Derby-Wills believes that can change if the right people speak up.
"Because he had a beautiful story and he had a lot to say, but if you looked at him on the surface a lot of folks just saw a homeless person," she said. "They didn’t see a veteran who served our country."