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Body of homeless man, 80, is found

February 08, 2002

Body of homeless man, 80, is found



By STACEY DANZUSO
chbbureau@innernet.net


The body of a homeless man was found Tuesday in a makeshift shelter in an Antrim Township, Pa., field, and Pennsylvania State Police said Thursday they believed he had been dead for several days.

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Police said they believe the man was Bennie Simpson, 80, Sgt. James Brown said.

The cause of death had not been determined, but the man believed to be Simpson could have died from a combination of natural causes and exposure, Franklin County Coroner Jeffrey Conner said.

Simpson's body was found in a small shelter he constructed from debris in a field adjacent to U.S. 11, north of Williamson Road, Brown said.

Police said the person who found the body called police.

Police have not located family members, but said they found among the man's possessions a Maryland moped license with a Hagerstown address.

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Examination of the body turned up no indication of foul play, Brown said.

Police said Simpson could have been living in the makeshift shelter for several weeks.

"We think he was just camping out and had been there a month or so," Brown said. "There is no evidence to suggest any ulterior motive."

While Simpson's death has not been attributed to exposure, Brown said an older person not eating regularly could die of hypothermia in temperatures as high as 50 degrees.

Trudy Wesley, case manager of the Franklin County Shelter for the Homeless, said the shelter opens its doors to people of all ages year-round and that Simpson's case is a rare one in the county.

"We could have helped him. He would have been a high priority because of his age," she said.

The shelter at 223 S. Main St. in Chambersburg is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The shelter screens admissions because it cannot take in people with severe health problems or mental illnesses, Wesley said.

She is responsible for setting up service plans to help those who come to the shelter get back on their feet. They initially are given a one-week stay and work with Wesley to become self-sufficient as well as to find a job and apartment.

"People can't come in and just hang out. It is a program geared toward rehabilitating people," she said.

The shelter has room for 24 people at a time and last month had 28 admissions, Wesley said.

She said she has seen the number of people over age 50 seeking help rise in the last year.

For more information on the Franklin County Shelter for the Homeless, call 1-717-722-7097.

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