He served 10 presidents, but died alone in squalor (from the Washington Post)
Theodoric C. James Jr. was clearly in trouble. He wasn’t showering anymore. He wore the same ragged clothing day after day. Rats rummaged through the weeds and mounds of trash in his yard. He started going to the bathroom in buckets on his front porch.
His neighbor Alex Dobbins was afraid that something terrible was going to happen. They had been friends since their days at Howard University and had lived in adjoining rowhouses in the 16th Street Heights section of Northwest Washington for 37 years.
For more than two years, Dobbins and James’s family members in Mississippi repeatedly called every city office they could think of — the Department of Mental Health, Adult Protective Services, his council member, the mayor — hoping to get James help and prevent the worst. His neighbor Dobbins was exasperated with the city and with his old friend. He wrote the mayor’s office a lengthy letter detailing James’s living conditions and efforts to get him help: “I believe that the unhealthy and unsanitary conditions constitute a public nuisance and pose an imminent danger to Mr. James and to his adjacent neighbors.”
Then, on Aug. 1, after the punishing heat wave that pushed the heat index to 112, Dobbins woke up worried because he hadn’t seen his friend in two days. He knocked on the door loudly with a baseball bat. There was no answer. He checked the Rite Aid where James bought his breakfast, which was often green tea and Doritos, but no one had seen him.
So once again, he picked up the phone and called 911. The firefighters who responded had a hard time getting the door open. Something was blocking it. Something heavy, like a body.
Mayor Gray’s administration should be ashamed of its performance. Instead of finding a reason to step in and help this person in need, they found every reason not to act. Sound familiar? Overlooking child in Ward 3
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