Murder Strikes Complex; "Squirrel," 78, Found Dead
On this Wednesday morning, April 26, a contractor discovered the cold body of George Tucker Fox, who'd been stabbed to death inside his apartment.
"I couldn't believe that," Rogers says slowly. "Mr. Fox? No. Why? Who? What? What reason?"
Fox was 78. His nickname was "Squirrel."
"He don't bother nobody," Rogers says.
"He don't mess with nobody," says Esau Miller, who has lived at the complex for 14 years.
"Oh Lord, Mr. Fox," Rogers mourns.
This is the second murder in less than a year at Church Hill House a brick, subsidized-rent apartment building located near 25th and Venable streets. It's home to about 138 people who have the misfortune of being old or disabled and poor, and therefore stuck.
Miller has repeatedly asked the building's owner, Winn Management, to hire another security guard to walk the halls. He may get his wish.
Project Manager Gilbert Winn says the company, with tax credits provided by the Virginia Housing Development Authority, will be spending $700,000 to upgrade security at Church Hill House and nearby Fairmount House. "I would say that it's really tops on our list," Winn says.
At Church Hill House, 16 new cameras will be installed to replace the old, stationary ones that criminals have learned to avoid, Winn says. A Des Moines security company will monitor the cameras remotely and warn or report suspicious activity. The company will also check IDs of all visitors via camera. The security guard who's been stuck checking IDs at the door will be assigned to patrol the floors during evenings and weekends.
The security plan has been in the works for years, Winn says, and will be in place within 45 days.
Miller and Rogers speak darkly of the problems that plague Church Hill House. Plenty of people in the building, legitimate residents and otherwise, use illegal drugs, Rogers says. Prostitutes and addicts hang around.
On July 14, 2005, 62-year-old James Garner was found dead on the floor of his Church Hill House apartment, incised wounds in his neck and a blunt-force injury to the head. Police don't know who killed him.
"If his death has meant better security for the residents at Church Hill House," Glenda Garner Whitt, Garner's sister, wrote to Style in January, "then there has been a positive result from our family tragedy."
Rogers says he may go back to sleeping in his van, a comforting metal shell. "I'm more secure in my van than I am in this building," he says. S
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