A 36-year-old man has been charged with murder in the March beating death of a homeless woman after DNA evidence linked him to crime, according to Harris County prosecutors.
Juan German Vigil is accused of striking to death Margaret Jean Stewart, 55, with an unknown object on March 26, according to a charging document filed on Nov. 14. The woman’s body was found bludgeoned, with injuries to her head and neck, behind a body shop on Calhoun Road near Sunnyside in south Houston, records show.
It’s not clear what type of DNA evidence investigators found that linked Vigil to Stewart. But prosecutors asked a judge Monday to issue a high bond in the amount of $100,000 in the months-old murder case stating that the 36-year-old man poses a risk to the safety of the community, documents show.
Vigil is being held on a $150,000 bond at the Harris County Jail, where he was already being held on a $75,000 bond on a separate case, court records show. Vigil was charged with aggravated assault on a family member in September.
Stewart was homeless and worked the streets, but she was a regular at Joy Missionary Baptist Church, where she would stop by the church on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for free lunches provided by the pastor and its congregants, said Matilda Jolivette, church director. The church is just a few blocks from where Stewart’s body was found.
“She was a respectable woman, but she chose the streets,” Jolivette said, adding that the church tried many times to minister to her, but she would not attend services. Stewart would stop by and sift through the clothing rack at the church, which provides outreach programs for the homeless or those who work the street, Jolivette said.
Jolivette said she was surprised to learn that someone had been finally charged in Stewart’s death.
“I knew sooner or later they would,” she said. “I prayed for many days, weeks and months on it.”
THE HOUSTON CHRONICLE HOMICIDE REPORT: 310 people have died by homicide in Harris County so far in 2019
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