Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Homeless man city's 60th homicide victim



By Jane Prendergast
Enquirer staff writer

MOUNT ADAMS - The killing of a homeless man on the edge of this Cincinnati neighborhood has left police and social-service providers wondering what motivated someone to shoot the man and leave him under a pile of blankets and debris.

Timothy Lance Wightman, 56, died where he lived - along some long-closed concrete steps that zigzag from Elsinore Place up a hillside overgrown with trees and brush. The steps end at a parking area adjacent to the Cincinnati Art Museum and art academy.

Wightman was shot once in the head, according to the Hamilton County coroner's office.

Officials of the Drop Inn Center shelter and the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless said they had not heard of the spot as a place where homeless people stay, but police said Wightman appeared to be living there. Georgine Getty, executive director of the homeless coalition, questioned whether the death might be a hate crime directed at the homeless.

Between 1999 and 2002, 123 homeless people were slain in the United States, according to the National Coalition for the Homeless.

"I've never, ever, ever met a homeless person with a gun,'' Getty said, adding that most couldn't afford a weapon and, if they somehow came across one, they likely would sell it.

Homicide detectives said they have no suspects in the city's 60th killing, nor any witnesses. Wightman's body was found a little after 9 a.m. Saturday. Investigators did not say how long they thought the body may have been there.

Police dispatch reports say an anonymous man at a pay phone on Gilbert Avenue in Walnut Hills called 911 to report the body. The caller told authorities the body could be found halfway up the steps on the left, buried under blankets and debris.

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E-mail jprendergast@enquirer.com




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