Crime victim to have home remodeled after fire

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A Jacksonville woman finally has a reason to smile after a string of violent crime nearly left her out on the street.

Last week, First Coast News told you about Marti Williams, 72, who is a longtime resident of the city's Arlington neighborhood.

Williams was the victim of two robberies at her home and a suspected arson that killed her cat and nearly destroyed her entire home. And that's not all.

During one of the robberies, the suspect beat Williams on her bedroom floor before running off with her money.

"I had a black eye on this side and abrasions on my face. He came back and broke into my bedroom and grabbed me around the neck," she explained.

Williams worried about where she was going to live because she didn't have the money to make the repairs. Her time at a health care facility was also winding down as her condition improved.

She said, "I've lost just about everything that have and I have no place to go."

Fortunately, the Justice Coalition took on her case and issued a plea for volunteers and donations to remodel Williams' single story house.

Builder's Care, the charitable arm of the Northeast Florida Builders Association, became involved and began work on Thursday morning.

Members of the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department also joined in, including some firefighters who responded to Williams' house the night of the fire.

"Firefighters get hundreds of calls everyday. But you never hear about the ones where they understand someone is down and out," said Randy Wyse, President of the Jacksonville Association of Firefighters.

Volunteers are first going in and gutting the majority of the home to remove fire damage. Then, they're going back in for a total remodel.

Matt Wiford, the head of Builder's Care, said, "Basically I'd say from the back half of the house forward, she's going to have a new house. And she deserves it. She's a sweet lady and it's unfortunate that it happened to her. And the real unfortunate part is it happens all the time."

The hope is all the work will be done by August 8.

Williams will see the changes for the first time during a ribbon cutting ceremony.


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