She made her daily rounds at the beach, collecting aluminum cans and old newspapers in her shopping cart. She dressed in layers of clothes and a scarf over her hair, and her territory was Mission Boulevard and Garnet Avenue.
To hundreds of Pacific Beach residents, she was known only as "Joanne the Bag Lady."
So when the news broke earlier this week that a street woman lay unconscious at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla after being brutally beaten in a public restroom in Pacific Beach, authorities were flooded with calls from beach residents asking whether the victim was the familiar figure.
Apparently she is, San Diego police say. They have tentatively identified the victim as Sara J. Ruthledge, who celebrated her 55th birthday in serious but stable condition Wednesday.
Ruthledge sustained cuts on her face and bone fractures after she was attacked Sunday morning in a public restroom in the 700 block of Pacific Beach Drive, said police spokesman Bill Robinson. Arrested in connection with the beating was Jose Herrera, 26, an illegal alien who has been booked into County Jail.