(LOUISVILLE, June 7th, 2004, 5:55 p.m.) -- Funeral services were held Monday for Clifton Agnew, the homeless man who died last week from injuries he sustained after he was allegedly attacked by two other homeless men in early April.
Police say 41-year-old Derek Edmonds and 19-year-old Tyreese Hall beat, stabbed and sodomized Clifton as he lay sleeping in an alley near the Salvation Army Center of Hope on Brook Street.
According to the police report, Agnew was stabbed, beaten with hands, feet, a trash can and crock pot while being told to hand over his money. The report says the two stripped Agnew of his clothing and sodomized him with sticks, boards and bottles, causing internal injuries. Agnew suffered severe head trauma, broken ribs, and a torn and lacerated anus, colon and rectum.
The attack left Agnew in a coma for several weeks and shocked the community. On Monday, many people who never knew Agnew attended his funeral to pay respects. During the service, Agnew was described by those who knew him as a simple and unassuming man -- who may have been overwhelmed by the number of people at his own funeral.
When Kaye Thomas learned what happened to Agnew, she visited him while he was in the hospital, and encouraged friends and family to send him get-well cards. Soon well wishers were writing from as far away as Canada, and thousands of cards and letters of support filled the trunk of Kaye's car.
"The word, 'homeless' is not your identity," Kaye says. "That may be how you live but that's not who you are."
With a little digging, Kaye found out about Clifton's identity. Just two years ago, he worked on a Memphis river barge. Kaye says his ex-wife told her Clifton loved to fish and ride motorcycles. "She said whatever differences they had in their marriage, he was still a good man."
The Homeless Coalition helped raise money for Clifton's funeral and also held a special memorial service for him at the Wayside Christian Mission Chapel.
Funeral services were held at the Cathedral of the Assumption, where Clifton ate lunch nearly every day. Some of the letters sent to Agnew during his final weeks were on display inside the church, and Kaye spoke from the pulpit one final time to the man who touched so many lives.
"The Secretary of the State of New Jersey sent you a letter, an Indian tribe in North Dakota sent you a card, the Kentucky School for the blind sent you a card, written so sweetly in braile."
Kaye spent hours reading to Agnew and holding his hand, and she was there when he finally opened his eyes before he died, just long enouh for her to tell him one more thing. "You were the reason for the cards, and the messages were for you."
Kaye had fifty cents placed in Clifton's pockets before he was buried. She says she wanted him to be buried with what he had the day he was attacked. One of the quarters came from a little girl in Elizabethtown, who sent her lucky quarter in one of those letters.
Clifton, who was 53, is buried at Resthaven Cemetery on Bardstown Road.