Homeless Man Killed; Family Begs For Answers
Investigators Question Homeless For Clues
POSTED: 4:51 pm CST November 4, 2009
UPDATED: 7:06 pm CST November 4, 2009
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- There are more questions than answers almost two days after a homeless man was found slain in downtown Nashville on a park bench.
|Related: Images | Video: Slain Homeless Man's Sister Remembers Educated Man | Video | Video |
Police are trying to figure out if the crime was random or if Edward Matthews was targeted for a specific reason.
His family is begging for answers, and people downtown are concerned.
“She could just feel it in her soul,” said Cleo Burrows, who said her mother just knew that it was her son who had been found on a park bench, shot to death in his sleep.
“I want to know what happened. I want to know why someone would shoot a person that was laying there asleep, not bothering nobody,” said Burrows.
She said her only brother was a smart man. He graduated from Hillwood High School in 1981 and went on to earn a B.S. in Special Education from Tennessee State University.
They were close, she said, but after school they each went their separate ways.
Looking at an old picture of her brother, Burrows said, “This is my brother, in that hat picture, but I don't know who that is, but that is my brother.”
Burrows remembers her brother as the smart man he used to be. Over the years, his smile faded, and Matthews' life went in another direction.
“Bad decisions in life and hanging out with the wrong people,” Burrows said, put her brother on the street.
For the past 20 years, Matthews lived on the streets of Nashville. "Maxi," as he was known, lived under a fog of drugs and dozens of arrests.
One homeless man Channel 4 spoke with Wednesday said he walked by early Tuesday morning and saw Matthews sleeping on the bench at 5th Avenue and Church Street just hours before police found him.
Richard Bolin said after hearing the news, he noticed fear among the younger homeless.
“But the old hands, the people who’ve been here for 10, 15, 20 years on the street homeless, it was just another day for them," Bolin said. "It was a very strange the reaction.”
“I'm not going to rest 'til I know what happened or why they did it, and I hope they find the person who did it," said Burrows.
Detectives and officers have been handing out fliers in areas where the homeless congregate and gather for meals. Those fliers have Matthews' photo and Crime Stoppers information.
Metro police are seeking some kind of information in this case. Those with any information are asked to call Crime Stoppers at 74-CRIME.
* November 3, 2009: Homeless Man Found Shot To Death Downtown
The mother of a homeless man shot and killed early Tuesday morning while he slept on a downtown Nashville park bench says she doesn't believe justice will come for her son, at least not in this life.
"They might get two or three years and then go on with their life if they ever get caught," Katie Coats said of whoever killed Edward Matthews.
"My son was homeless and that's all anyone ever sees, but he was my only son. They may get away with it now, but the Lord will take care of it. Someday, they'll pay for it."
The body of Matthews, 46, was found at about 6:45 a.m. Tuesday at the corner of Church Street and Fifth Avenue. Investigators said they believe he was killed hours earlier, around 3 a.m.
Metro police spokesman Don Aaron said an off-duty officer thought Matthews was asleep and tried to wake him. The officer then saw blood and realized Matthews had been shot in the back of the head, investigators said.
Police did not find a gun at the scene.
Aaron said Matthews was seen in the area of Broadway and Fifth Avenue late Monday night.
Employees at several downtown businesses on Church Street and Fifth Avenue said Matthews was a regular in the area.
Coats, 62, said her son had been living on the streets for more than 20 years. She described Matthews as a very smart man who began taking drugs shortly after he graduated with a bachelor's degree in special education from Tennessee State University in 1985.
"He always had a home with me, but he didn't want to stay with me because he didn't want to live by my rules," Coats said. "So he just stayed on the streets.
"He was always nice and didn't bother nobody. We just can't imagine who would hurt him like this."
Someone left a small red flower on the bench Tuesday after the body was removed.
John Bone said he knew Matthews from his days on the street.
The native Nashvillian said he was homeless for about five years before he went to live with his sister in March.
"He never bothered anybody," Bone, 45, said of Matthews. "He always picked up cigarettes and asked for a light or he asked people for change to get a drink, but that's about it."