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Body of Homeless Man, 20, Is Found Hanged on Pole

TIMES STAFF WRITERS

A 20-year-old homeless man who apparently fashioned a noose from his own shoelaces was found hanged from a utility pole early Monday, authorities said.

Police and coroner’s officials ruled the death a suicide, noting that the man’s body had been found high up the pole--located in an alley behind 1412 W. Walnut St.--and that his hands were not tied. Despite the cold weather, the man was wearing khaki shorts, a light jacket and sneakers.

The man, believed to be a Mexican national, was carrying no identification. His pockets were empty, and he left no note, police said. However, authorities were able to identify him through fingerprints. His name was not released pending notification of his family.

“He apparently climbed up onto the fence and then climbed the spikes on the pole,” Police Sgt. Phil Archer said. “It looks like he tied some shoelaces around his neck and then to the pole, and then just released his hands. He just let go.”

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A man and his 9-year-old son spotted the body early Monday morning and called police at 7:44 a.m.

“I told my son not to look, and I called the police,” the man said, adding that his son has been pensive ever since.

Although the victim had lived in the United States for some time, his parents and family live in Mexico, police said.

A coroner’s official who asked to remain anonymous said the man was identified through his fingerprints, which were on file, indicating that he had likely been arrested at least once.

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Another coroner’s investigator said the man was a Mexican national who “was homeless and doesn’t have any family here.”

“We’ll try to notify them (the parents), but God only knows where they are,” the official said. “The guy was well known in the neighborhood, though.”

Residents of the neighborhood near where the man’s body was found said his was a familiar face.

“He would hang out with the rest of (those drug dealers) on the street corners,” said one resident who asked that her name not be used. “Everyone is afraid of the drug dealers.”

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While acknowledging that the alley and nearby Walnut Street are known for their narcotics activity, police said they had no evidence linking the man to the area drug trade.

“There’s nothing that I know of,” Police Lt. Bill Tegeler said. “There is some narcotics activity in that area, though.”

Coroner’s officials said they had not found evidence to suggest that the victim died while under the influence of drugs. Toxicology results, which can show whether someone was using drugs at the time of death, typically are not available for more than a week.


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