Death of city emergency housing resident goes unnoticed for 2 weeks

Monday, May 20, 2019
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Jim Hoffer reports on death that went unnoticed for two weeks in a Washington Heights housing facility.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- 7 On Your Side Investigates has learned that the body of a man living in city-funded emergency housing went unnoticed by residents and supervisors for at least two weeks.

Robert Townes died last month in a room where he had been living at a temporary housing facility in Washington Heights.

He had been dead for at least two weeks and when his body was finally discovered it had seriously decayed, according to the Medical Examiner due to the "delayed discovery."

Townes' mother who found out about her son's death on a Facebook posting told 7 on Your Side that, "He did not deserve to go out this way, he did not!"

The 50-room facility is run by Core Services Group for the city's Housing Preservation and Development's Emergency Relocation Services.

Core's President Jack Brown told 7 On Your Side that Townes was last seen five days before he died. He also said his death may have gone unnoticed because the facility has "more privacy than a homeless shelter so there was no need to go into his room."

But Townes' sister, Idel Patterson, says that's just an excuse for lack of caring and proper supervision of the curfew-controlled facility.

"I am furious due to the simple fact of how can you not smell a body." Patterson said, "it's just horrible, no one should have to be found like that."

Townes' body was so decomposed that the Medical Examiner could only identify him through fingerprints.

The city Department of Housing Preservation and Development declined to comment for this story referring us to Core, which the city contracts to supervise the emergency housing facility.

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