Homeless man found dead in Denton identified

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Richard Gaskin has been identified as the homeless man who was found dead near a wooded area behind LA Fitness in the 1300 block of South Loop 288.

Police initially said Gaskin, 36, was found dead in a tent out in Friday’s freezing temperatures. But the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office lists his official time of death as 6:09 p.m. Saturday. The man who came upon Gaskin’s body also was homeless, and he told officers Gaskin went by the nickname “Turtle,” according to police.

Medical investigators completed an autopsy Sunday, but the results may not be available for up to 90 days, office spokeswoman Carol Lawson said. Although Gaskin’s official cause of death remains unknown, homeless agency officials suspect the weather played a major role.

“One of the things homeless people do is go into a place to stay warm and then go right back out into the cold,” Wayne Aleshire, Bridging Hope Ministries founder, told the Denton Record-Chronicle on Sunday. “That can cause your body to go into shock.”

Aleshire met Gaskin through his work with Bridging Hope, a nonprofit that aims to connect foster children, single teenage mothers and homeless people with transitional housing programs. He said Gaskin didn’t go to local emergency shelters, such as Salvation Army Denton and the Monsignor King Outreach Center, because he had anxiety and didn’t like large crowds.

The Salvation Army shelter, which can house up to 42 people, is open daily from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. The outreach center regularly opens at 7 p.m. Monday and 5 p.m. Tuesday. It also is available when temperatures drop below 32 degree or rise above 100 degrees.

Denton police spokesman Shane Kizer said the department does not suspect foul play in Gaskin’s death. Investigators are waiting for the autopsy results, he said.

JULIAN GILL can be reached at 940-566-6882 and via Twitter at @juliangillmusic.


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