Man injured at homeless camp on Tuesday dies
The man who suffered head and facial injuries Tuesday night at a homeless camp near Fort Eddy Road died yesterday, Lt. Greg Ferry of the state police said.
Paul Tinkham, 52, who lived at the camp, died at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon. Ferry said an autopsy report is expected this morning, at which time the state police hope to have a clearer idea of what happened.
As of last night, the cause of Tinkham’s death had not yet been ruled as an accident or a crime, and Ferry said his department is looking for help.
“It’s an active investigation,” Ferry said, “and we’re asking anyone with information to call us as soon as possible.”
The police were not able to interview Tinkham after the incident, an obvious stumbling block in their investigation. Ferry stopped short of saying that Tinkham was unconscious.
“He was just not in condition to be interviewed,” Ferry said. “He wasn’t medically able to be interviewed.”
The investigation has also been hampered by a lack of witnesses. State police Sgt. Mo Sampson said the night of the incident that the homeless community had told investigators that Tinkham “had fallen over and hurt himself.”
On Wednesday, the day after Tinkham was hurt, the Monitor spoke to three men at the camp, who said they were present when the incident occurred. The three men, all of whom declined to give their names, said that Tinkham had slipped on rocks near the Merrimack River, but then indicated he had been beaten.
The men also said they had refused to share information with the police, a fact that Ferry hinted at when contacted by phone.
“Part of the challenge with an investigation is witnesses, and with the transient community, sometimes they’re apprehensive, or afraid, or have reasons why they don’t want to talk to police,” Ferry said. “It’s understandable, but it makes it more challenging if witnesses don’t want to speak.”
Tinkham’s death comes at a time when the homeless community has been fighting for its own space to live.
Camps on state property were recently cleared, forcing members of the city’s homeless population to find new places to camp. One such site has been under an Interstate 393 bridge across the Merrimack River, which is state property and where Tinkham was injured.
City and state officials began discussions on clearing state and private properties after several incidents last year, including the disappearance of a homeless man whose body was later found in the Merrimack River; the drowning of another homeless man who was swimming in the Merrimack; and an ax attack on a homeless man by another man at the camp.
Ferry said the state police have been in contact with Tinkham’s family. He also said Tinkham is known in the area by local law enforcement officials.
“The Concord police have had prior contact with Mr. Tinkham,” Ferry said. “I don’t have specifics, but he was known to the Concord Police Department.”
Reached last night, Lt. John Thomas of the Concord police confirmed that his department has had some type of relationship with Tinkham, but he declined to provide details. He said any information regarding Tinkham’s background would have to come from the state police, who are in charge of the investigation.
Anyone with information regarding Tinkham’s death is asked to call the state police at 271-1162 or 223-8496.