BRADENTON — Police are searching for clues in finding a killer who beat a homeless man to death and left him for dead behind a business off 14th Street West.
Police littered the area with fliers Tuesday looking for information on the murder of 59-year-old Daniel A. Case.
Case, who was homeless off and on for about 10 years, had stayed behind Griggs Plumbing Co., 1317 12th Ave. W. for about two years. He was found dead Monday morning.
“I said, ‘Come on Casey, buddy, you’ve got to put your bed up,’” said David Knott, who found Case when he arrived at work at Griggs at about 7:30 a.m. “His hood hung over his head and blood was coming from his nose. That wasn’t uncommon because he would get beat up. He always had fresh beer and few dollars on him.”
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Knott still had no response from Case.
“I grabbed him by his knee. I started to lift up his hood,” said Knot, who said Case was covered in blood and slumped over in a chair.
Someone had dealt him a lethal blow to the back of his head, according to police.“His hands were bloated and his jacket was bloody. I checked for his pulse,” Knott said.
Police arrived on scene and began to investigate Case’s murder.
Bradenton Police Detective Lt. John Affolter would not disclose the item Case was beaten with. A motive has not been determined by detectives.
Affolter said it’s not uncommon for the homeless to become targets of crime.
“They are out there on the streets. They become victims of opportunity,” he said. “Everyone we interviewed seemed to like him.”
Detectives canvassed the area where Case lived with fliers searching for information about his murder.
Just across the street, Case routinely had dinner at the Bradenton Salvation Army Shelter on 14th Street West. He was last seen dining there Sunday, according to staff.
Case reported being battered in June 2008 and was robbed in March of 2007, according to police records.
His mother, Rachel Case, said it was common for her son to be missing items when he came to her home and visited her for a few days.
“I wasn’t happy with the way he was living, but he didn’t deserve to die that way,” she said.
Knott fears Case may have been killed by another homeless person.
“I certainly hope he died for something more than a $1.35 can of beer, but in my heart I feel that’s what happened,” he said.
Those close to Case — a heavy drinker and Vietnam veteran — said he was changing.
For the first time in many years, he spent Christmas with his mother and siblings.
“He stayed long enough to exchange gifts and then we took him to our house,” said Teresa Ryan, Case’s sister.
Ryan showed Case pictures of his three daughters, who he has not seen in 17 years, who living in Ohio by going online. He has five grandchildren.
“He just kind of turned himself around,” said Ryan, who began sobbing.
Case had asked for pictures of his daughters and family members to place on his wall when he found an apartment.
He was going through the process of getting Social Security, close friends said.
“He was real close to getting off the street,” said Jeff Mohler, owner of Griggs. “He was talking about being reunited with his daughters. I think he probably felt he needed to be stable to see his daughters. As a man, that’s how I would want to do it.”
Anyone with information about Case’s death can contact Bradenton Police Department Detective Greg Price at 932-9355 or remain anonymous and by calling Crimestoppers at (866) 634-TIPS (8477).