Candlelight vigil honors Bradenton homeless man

Cletus James Boyer, 71, died weeks after being robbed, beaten in Bradenton

jdeleon@bradenton.comDecember 22, 2013 


BRADENTON -- A candlelight vigil held Saturday was not only in remembrance of a father, husband, business owner, veteran and friend, but to raise awareness of the violence so many homeless face.

Cletus James Boyer, 71, died Thursday as a result of the injuries he received Nov. 1 when two men beat him after following him from a Bank of America ATM to a 7-Eleven and then to the 1200 block of 12th Avenue West. Boyer was robbed and then pistol whipped.

Bradenton twin brothers Donnell Jamar Henderson and Dontay Jamarrie Henderson, 20, were each arrested Nov. 6 and charged with armed robbery, aggravated battery and other charges stemming from the incident that left Boyer for dead.

On Saturday, many recalled a man filled with love and smiles, known as "Jim" or "Jimmy" to most.

"What I didn't have, he had," said Anenette "Mommy" Stafford. "What he didn't have, I had; And we both knew that."

Stafford, who is homeless, teared up as she spoke of her friend.

"We hung out a lot together," she said.

She heard the news of Boyer's beating from others on the street, she said.

"It has been a long haul between us, from sharing cans of beans to sharing a blanket," Stafford said. "I work now, he would have been proud to know I am going to make it."

Those who knew him best remember the man who loved his canned beans, Mountain Dew, cigarettes and coffee.

"He would take the shirt off his back," nephew Christian Meudt said.

The two men were the

only family each other had in Bradenton.

"Me and my uncle were together since he moved here from Connecticut in 1991," Meudt said.

Members of Bayside Community Church organized Saturday's vigil for the man they had all come to know over the last couple years. Boyer had become a regular at the Saturday morning community breakfast events.

Boyer wasn't just a taker, however.

"At 71 he use to help us serve and set-up," minister Christine Monroe-Loomes said. "He loved to serve."

She remembers him as always smiling and still flirting with the ladies, despite it all.

In the weeks following Boyer's beating, she and her husband Ian Loomes were at his bedside daily and helped act as his medical advocate.

"We were there just making sure he was loved," she said.

On Saturday a few dozen people who participated in the candlelight vigil were standing up for Boyer and for all homeless.

Preparations are underway to given him the service he deserves at the Sarasota National Cemetery, they said.

Many who attended loved the man as family and want justice.

Dontay Jamarrie Henderson was released from Manatee County jail on Tuesday. The State Attorney's Office will not prosecute the charges against him, according to court records.

His brother, Donnell Jamar Henderson, remains in custody at Manatee County jail on bonds totalling $550,500. He has not been formally charged with the armed robbery and aggravated battery but has been charged with battery on a law enforcement officer and criminal mischief.

"They deserve to have no bond and to be charged with murder," Christopher Murkerson said.

Boyer's was not without his own struggles, which led to several arrests since 2000 for charges including petty theft and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Murkerson had known Boyer for 28 years, all his life.

"My brother and uncle use to be homeless," he said. "I use to leave my house and go stay out with them on the street to make sure they were OK."

Over the years he said he got to know many of the homeless in Bradenton and came to think of Boyer as his uncle.

"I looked out for all the homeless," he said. "The day it happened, if I would have known, it would have not happened."

Jessica De Leon, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.

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