Thanks to Mitch Harper for pointing this out. Â Another one of those, this happened in America – in just the last few days, stories??? Â There’s a pretty graphic photo on the Detroit News website accompanying this article.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009 -Â Charlie LeDuff on Detroit
Frozen in indifference: Life goes on around body found in vacant warehouse
This city has not always been a gentle place, but a series of events over the past few, frigid days causes one to wonder how cold the collective heart has grown.
It starts with a phone call made by a man who said his friend found a dead body in the elevator shaft of an abandoned building on the city’s west side.
“He’s encased in ice, except his legs, which are sticking out like Popsicle sticks,” the caller phoned to tell this reporter.
[…] Before calling the police, this reporter went to check on the tip, skeptical of a hoax. Sure enough, in the well of the cargo elevator, two feet jutted out above the ice. Closer inspection revealed that the rest of the body was encased in 2-3 feet of ice, the body prostrate, suspended into the ice like a porpoising walrus.
[…] A colony of homeless men live in the warehouse. Wednesday morning a few fires were burning inside oil drums. Scott Ruben, 38, huddled under filthy blankets not 20 paces from the elevator shaft.
[…] There are at least 19,000 homeless people in Detroit, by some estimates. Put another way, more than 1 in 50 people here are homeless.
The human problem is so bad, and the beds so few, that some shelters in the city provide only a chair. The chair is yours as long as you sit in it. Once you leave, the chair is reassigned.
Thousands of down-on-their-luck adults do nothing more with their day than clutch onto a chair. This passes for normal in some quarters of the city.
“I hate that musical chair game,” Ruben said. He said he’d rather live next to a corpse.
Convinced that it was indeed a body, this reporter made a discreet call to a police officer.
“Aw, just give 911 a call,” the cop said. “We’ll be called eventually.”
A call was placed to 911. A woman answered. She was told it was a reporter calling. The operator tried to follow, but seemed confused. “Where is this building?”
She promised to contact the appropriate authorities.
Twenty minutes or so went by when 911 called the newsroom. This time it was a man.
“Where’s this building?”
It was explained to him, as was the elevator shaft and the tomb of ice.
“Bring a jack-hammer,” this reporter suggested.
“That’s what we do,” he said.
Nearly 24 hours went by. The elevator shaft was still a gaping wound. There was no crime scene tape. The homeless continued to burn their fires. City schoolchildren still do not have the necessary books to learn. The train station continues to crumble. Too many homicides still go unsolved.
After another two calls to 911 on Wednesday afternoon (one of which was disconnected), the Detroit Fire Department called and agreed to meet nearby.
Capt. Emma McDonald was on the scene.
“Every time I think I’ve seen it all, I see this,” she said.
And with that they went about the work of recovering a person who might otherwise be waiting for the warm winds of spring.