Mourners pay tribute to deceased homeless man

Thursday, October 28, 2010 | 8:40 p.m. CDT; updated 10:05 p.m. CDT, Thursday, October 28, 2010
After the memorial service on Thursday, candlelight vigil attendees gather outside Wilkes Boulevard United Methodist Church to remember and pray for Jerry Schneider and others who have died homeless. Many members of the homeless community had come to pay their respects to Schneider who was found dead on Sunday at a camp near Range Line Street; his death has become a homicide investigation.

COLUMBIA — Forty people gathered at the Wilkes Boulevard United Methodist Church to mourn the death of Jerry Schneider, a local homeless man. Schneider was found dead Sunday morning at a homeless camp near Interstate 70.

“He had his ups and downs with people, but he was always a good man,” said Billy Pilger, a friend of Schneider's for seven years. “Even when he cussed you out.”


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The service included a reading of Psalm 22, a candlelight vigil and a recitation of “Amazing Grace.”

Tammy Crow, another friend of Schneider's, said he was a very generous man who didn’t always have something to give, but always gave what he could.

In addition to family and friends, a number of concerned citizens attended the service.

Jill Lambergi, who works with people with disabilities, said she thinks Columbia doesn’t care about homeless people.

“With all the vacant buildings and resources in this town, I think we as a civilized society should do more,” she said. “Thank God there’s Loaves and Fishes. But the problem is there are so many restrictions. People can’t come in drunk and that’s often a problem.”

Lambergi said she wishes Columbia’s homeless had professional on-site services available.

The service ended with a reading of the names of Columbia’s deceased homeless over the past 12 years. Hallsville resident Nancy Parks compiled the list of 13 names. Two of the deceased were identified only as John Doe.

“It’s so easy to sweep these people under the rug when they’re homeless,” Parks said.

Police are investigating Schneider’s death as a homicide and have not identified a suspect.

“This has got me so confused,” Pilger said. “Who would do something like this?”

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Dan Dalton October 28, 2010 | 10:52 p.m.

You should try to find a picture of Jerry so people can more easily identify with the story.

(Report Comment)
Linda Dunne October 29, 2010 | 6:05 a.m.

There was a program at the service for Jerry. If the reporters aren't able to get ahold of one, I have mine that I can scan, upload, and send it so we can show his face. It's very important for everyone to put a face to this. I would love to be able to look at all the cases from 98 and look for any connections that might help us solve these senseless murders. I would also love to see our crime investigation team to take a look at them all as well. Thank you to the Missourian for coming out and putting this story on the front page with a picture and not just a 5 sentence write up lost somewhere in the middle of the paper. From a child that lost her parent the same way as Jerry was taken, from the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for coming out last night and thank you so much for caring!

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