Homeless camp sites hidden in plain sight - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Homeless camp sites hidden in plain sight

Roslyn Anderson - bio | email

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - When temperatures drop many homeless turn to shelters, but others live in camp sites around the city, hidden in plain sight.

A murder investigation puts one of those homeless campgrounds in the spotlight. 

Fifty year old James Coker denied any connection with Wednesday's murder of Connie Stubbs, a homeless woman.

Stubbs' body was found at a camp site in woods near I-20 and Gallatin Street near the Petro Truck Stop.

While handcuffed on the back seat of a J.P. D. cruiser Coker was asked what happened.

"Miss Connie woke up dead this morning," replied Coker.

Jackson police charged Coker, who is also homeless, with her murder.

"I went and reported this crime. And it ain't a crime, Connie died. She's an old person. We all old. We are homeless," added Coker.

Hinds County Coroner Sharon Grisham Stewart said Stubbs, 52 years old, died of blunt force trauma to the head.

Jackson police said this is the first violent crime investigated among the homeless in recent years.

In 2009 officers investigated people at the I-20 homeless camp site and another nearby.

"There were reports of a lot of homeless people breaking into truck drivers' truck and also coming into the gas stations where they were stealing merchandise," said J.P. D. Officer Colendula Green.

Near the Petro, blue roof tarps and other tents serve as shelters from the rain and wind. a grill is even set up for cooking.

There appear to be four separate living areas among the trees and high brush.

At the homeless camp site everything can be found from mattresses to remote controls.

It's one of four identified by city officials.

According to Jackson police, they are located in woods on Fortification Street near I-55, around the Pearl River near Jefferson Street and the site of the murder.

"Which is possibly owned by J.P. S. Jackson Public Schools and also there's one behind the Flying J gas station in the wooded area that is owned by MDOT," added Green.

The Billy Brumfield House and Gateway Rescue Mission have been full over the holiday weekend and for the past several days with the homeless searching for a warm place to sleep.

Stewpot's Opportunity Center opened as an overflow emergency shelter when the temperature fell below freezing.

If not at these shelters or vacant buildings, some of Jackson's homeless take their chances in the woods just under our noses near some of the most highly traveled roadways in the state.

Coker remains in the Hinds County Detention Center without bond.

@2010 WLBT. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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