Feb 7, 2009

Another frozen corpse

We must constantly inundate the public with these stories. Remind people that there are people freezing to death daily in our country. The pen (keyboard) is a mighty weapon. Spread awareness! Donate blankets, old clothes whatever you can to your local homeless shelters to help those less fortunate stay warm. I know I have an old coat in my closet that someone could use. Please, if you are able, do what you can. People should not be freezing to death in the United States of America in 2009.

Posted in Uncategorized by gangbox on the January 30, 2009
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from the DETROIT NEWS:

Friday, January 30, 2009
To family, frozen man was JohnnyCharlie LeDuff / The Detroit News

Detroit EMS, fire department and police crews attempt to extract the body from the elevator shaft Wednesday. (Ankur Dholakia / The Detroit News)

DETROIT — The man frozen at the bottom of an abandoned elevator shaft was indeed somebody’s child.

For the record, her name was Orlene.

For the record, his name was Johnny. Johnny Redding.

Redding met his Maker about a month ago, authorities surmise, when he was either pushed or fell down the shaft and came to rest in five feet of water. The weather turned blue, and Redding would become encased in a vault of ice, his shoes and shins protruding out.

The world became shocked to learn that people knew that Redding lay below and yet carried on with their own games and grievances, not bothering to inform the authorities. Eventually, someone with a heart called this reporter. Once located, two dozen police officers and firefighters working with chainsaws and guide rope extricated the body.

A wallet was found on the corpse. The identification told investigators the barest of facts. John Redding. 56-years-old. City of residence: River Rouge.

They know little else. Whether his was death by misadventure or by the hand of another man remains a mystery.

“He is still too frozen to even take fingerprints,” said Vanessa Denha-Garmo, spokeswoman for the Wayne County medical examiner.

The address in the wallet leads back to the small Cape Cod in River Rouge, once owned by his mother and now owned by his brother Homer, who along with his sister, Lillian Warren, identified the body this evening.

Homer Redding, 59, was saddened but not surprised by his little brother’s death. According to him, Johnny was a soft-hearted man who fell into a hard world and could never extricate himself from it, no matter how hard he tried. Johnny was infected with the need for drugs and alcohol. Rundown buildings were his clubhouse.

“He chose the life for whatever reason,” Redding said. “But he wasn’t homeless. Please don’t call him homeless. He always had a place to go. He was loved.”

Johnny Redding, according to his brother and sister, was one of those men who bounced from odd-job to couch to the homeless mission and back. He lived with his mother in River Rouge, the same house he was raised in until she died two years ago.

It wasn’t always this way for Johnny. He worked until he was 40 at a local steel mill along side of his father. Then Johnny’s brother Marion died of an overdose.

“That’s when I seen the change,” Homer said. “He was very close to Marion.”

Johnny began to ping-pong in life. He would do odd jobs: gardening, plumbing, anything to get him through. When he couldn’t get through, he would insinuate himself on his sister’s couch and then insinuated himself on his brother’s couch and then feeling better, he would get lost again.

“Last time I saw him was in September for his birthday,” Homer said. “It was alright. I haven’t seen him since.”

If the outpouring of phone calls and letters are any indication, then the life and sad end of Johnny Redding reminds us that even the dirtiest life has value. There are many Johnnys out there: Victor, Kenneth, Terrence your loved ones are asking about you.

And if you should judge Johnny Redding harshly, his brother Homer said, remember that no man deserves to go ignored at the bottom of an elevator shaft.

“We’ve got to live in the world together,” Homer said. “And we got to care about each other.”

You can reach Charlie LeDuff at (313) 222-2071 or charlie@detnews.com.
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the walking man said...

The only comfort in the sad tragic state of affairs is that Johnnie, a street person, who has family in the area and by all accounts was just one of a number of wandering souls in Detroit who was good man; now sleeps comfortably with his ancestors, more comfortably than he slept in life.

Lori said...

That is the point, sadly, he should have been able to sleep in comfort in his living hours as well.

Pookie said...

I wonder who it was that knew he was down there and did nothing about it, and why? I also wonder why those people aren't being charged with obstruction of justice or some other charge related to not telling authorities about him being down there?