Monday, April 7, 2008

Death comes more often for homeless people

If you are homeless in the U.S. and Canada, depending on what city "live" in, you are 2 to 8 times more likely to die than your housed neighbors. Untreated illness, drugs and violence stalk you. Sometimes you fall asleep and just don't wake up

That's what happened to Ken Blackburn, 59, Springfield, Missouri, who was found dead Saturday in a small homeless encampment. The medical examiner ruled he died of "natural causes." Mary Ann Morgan, 61, was found dead in an alley in Palo Alto, California after a long struggle with alcoholism. The cause of her death was undetermined.

In Richmond, California, Jimmy Carter and his buddies were standing outside a church on March 30 waiting for breakfast and Bible study when they were caught in cross-fire between two shooters and Jimmy was killed. A week earlier, a homeless man was shot and killed while riding a bicycle but police don't believe there's a connection between the deaths. In Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, two as yet unidentified men presumed to be homeless, one white and one black, were found shot to death in an alley near the Grace Rescue Mission. In Calgary, Alberta, an unnamed homeless man was beaten to death following a fight over $20 of rock cocaine.

An inquiry into the death of Frank Paul in 1998 is finally taking place in Vancouver, British Columbia. Mr. Paul was arrested for being drunk but then not allowed into the jail. A police officer -- helped him walk, the officer said; dragged him, the evidence implies-- to an alley where he was found dead several hours later.

Rarely any photos; rarely any flowers.

Photo: friends grieving, Holly Pickett, The Spokesman-Review

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