APD investigating suspicious death - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

APD investigating suspicious death

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Austin police are trying to figure out how the body of a man ended up in a field next to a gas station near East Ben White Blvd. Tuesday.

Investigators and crime scene specialists document the body discovered next to the Valero gas station in the 6000 block of East Ben White.

Police aren't releasing a lot of details, just that it's a white man in his 50's.

Bobby Moore, who works at nearby business, Steve Chapman Motor Sales, says he's seen the victim before.

"He would come around, he wouldn't beg, he would do his usual walk back and forth, just live his life," Moore said.

Police are categorizing this suspicious death as murder number three of 2013, the first involving a homeless person.

Mitchell Gibbs is with Front Steps, the group that runs the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless or ARCH, in downtown Austin. He says, unless more help is offered to this vulnerable group, you can expect more deaths. There were 140 homeless deaths in 2012.

"Every time I look at this population, I recognize how vulnerable these folks are. We deal with so many people with mental health issues, so many people with physical health issues, they become easy targets and today is just another example of a loss that shouldn't have happened," Gibbs said.

Other homeless advocates like, Richard Troxell with House the Homeless, tried to help the homeless protect themselves by handing out whistles last year. The effort followed a string of homeless homicides.

In July, 49-year-old, William Greer, was found dead in his sleeping bag on the Hike and Bike Trail near Lady Bird Lake.

A month before, 34-year-old, Valerie Godoy, was found near a bench at Duncan Park. Police had called that a brutal attack on a helpless woman.

In February of 2012, 27-year-old, James McQuaig, was discovered dead in his sleeping bag under the MoPac bridge near Lady Bird Lake.

Homeless advocates say these deaths prove there is a need for more permanent supportive housing.

"The more opportunities that our community can build around permanent supportive housing the less of these kind of tragedies our community will have to see."

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