Homeless Concord man remembered for ministry, generosity
Mark Lufkin, seen with his sister Christy Lecuyer, died Saturday. (Courtesy photo)
Mark Lufkin made a necklace made of pull tabs and it was found among his belongings by his family.
A Concord homeless man whose death is under investigation recently returned to living in shelters and under bridges because he felt compelled to preach the gospel to others as their peer, not an outsider.
Mark Lufkin’s family believes someone within that community turned on him Thursday night, brutally beating him and causing his death Saturday. But the police have stressed that rumors about what landed 39-year-old Lufkin in the hospital are building, and what happened is still unclear.
“The range of possibilities right now is anywhere from accidental to, is it possible there is wrongdoing? Yes,” Concord police Lt. Timothy O’Malley said. “We’re looking into that but we don’t know where it falls in that range.”
O’Malley said Lufkin was taken to Concord Hospital either late Thursday or early Friday after paramedics received a 911 call that he was suffering from a “medical issue.” O’Malley wouldn’t say who made the call or describe the issue, but he said Lufkin was later taken to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon.
The Concord police were contacted by doctors there Friday, who told them his state had worsened.
“We started looking into possible causes of his condition,” O’Malley said. “That’s not to say we had information there was wrongdoing, but we wanted to look into the rumors and see what possibly happened to him.”
O’Malley said the police were hoping that would become clear from an autopsy expected to take place late yesterday. The New Hampshire attorney general’s office has been briefed on the matter but is not actively involved in the investigation, he said.
Lufkin, according to those who knew him, was most recently living beneath the Interstate 393 overpass, on private property along the railroad tracks that the police have received an increasing number of complaints about. Officials have said they plan to clear the space soon. The move is part of a continuing effort spurred in part by recent incidents including the disappearance of a homeless man whose body was later found in the Merrimack River, an ax attack by one person at a camp against another and a drowning.
The camp was empty yesterday afternoon, just piles of trash and broken furniture stacked in the shadow of the overpass. Nearby, a man sitting in his car shared his take on what happened Thursday night. The version, while wholly different than the one relayed by Lufkin’s family, is circulating nonetheless as truth.
Lufkin’s mother and father, who traveled to Concord from Florida on Friday, believe his death was no accident and likely connected to a fight he had been in several days previously.
Lufkin’s mother, Linda, said her son called Wednesday and told her he had been attacked while defending a homeless woman who had been sexually assaulted. The mother and her husband, Delwyn, both believe he was attacked again Thursday night in connection to the same incident. They’ve heard there were two witnesses. (O’Malley said detectives haven’t spoken to anyone with any first-hand knowledge.)
The parents added that his wounds, which doctors told them were sustained on both sides of his head, don’t appear to be from a fall. Liza Valliere of Concord, one of Lufkin’s cousins, said she was with him all day Friday and he never gained consciousness, made a movement or opened his eyes.
‘Your son was good to me’
The family has questions.
But rather than fixating on them, they seem more compelled to learn about the life Lufkin lived here, one he chose to re-enter after his sister and parents brought him from Concord to Florida about a year ago.
“I sobered him up,” his sister Christy Lecuyer said. “I washed his feet for him. When he came in, he was filthy and beat up and blood from head to toe. I took him to the hospital. I cleaned him up. I mothered him in every way that I possibly could and just loved and nurtured him.”
He stopped drinking, had a job and was saving money.
But soon, he talked of coming back to Concord.
His father was disappointed, wanting his son to stay sober and knowing a move back here could jeopardize that. He longed for Lufkin to internalize the Bible lessons his son had latched onto since he was a child – which meant keeping his sobriety. But even recently when the two had read scriptures together Lufkin told his father that he wasn’t learning for his own sake.
“I was like ‘Mark, this is for you. I want to get you right so you can go there and preach to them without any hypocrisy,’ ” Delwyn said. “He said ‘Oh no, I have to be like them or they’re not going to listen to me. I’m not going to go in there with a suit coat. That ain’t going to work.’ ”
John Moretto, director of Concord’s Open Hands Resource Center, knew Lufkin before he left town and was shocked to see him return. He asked why, and Lufkin told him he didn’t know, only that he needed to be here.
Moretto saw him go back to his old ways.
But also giving.
Workers at the resource center would force him to take things, then watch him pass it all on to others. He preached, Moretto said, not on a soapbox but through one-on-one conversations that left the receiver never doubting Lufkin cared for them.
He struggled, though, and just recently told Moretto that he expected to die in Concord.
“Mark knew this was going to be the place that it would end for him. But he knew that in the middle of that he had a mission,” he said. “He felt God was calling him to a mission and he, despite what felt in his heart would be the outcome, he did it.”
His family says they knew little about his life here.
Hearing the stories has overwhelmed their grief and filled them with gratitude for the people who have come forward, grabbed their hands and shared.
“There was a man at the church yesterday that came up to me and he looked terrible,” Delwyn said. “And I’m looking at him and he came up and he said, ‘Your son was good to me.’ . . . I couldn’t handle it anymore. All these people coming up to me saying what a great thing he did for them. And I was hurting. And he put his arms around me and told me that God loves me.”
Another told them how he had heard Lufkin play his guitar only once but was forever moved by his music. One man gave the family the chain of can tabs Lufkin had collected and planned to send to a charity that would donate money for each one to children. More stories, they expect, will be shared at today’s memorial service.
The father knew none of it.
And when he talks about his son now, the pain in his eyes is laced with an understanding and respect deeper than what he could muster while his child was alive.
“I didn’t really have an open heart toward his ministry. I call it a ministry now,” he said.
“Now I can’t tell him,” the father continued, his voice cracking.
“You raised that man,” Rebeca Beaupre, a cousin who lives in Concord, told him, as she placed her hands around his hunched shoulders. “If you weren’t the father you were, he wouldn’t have been the man he is.”
Delwyn, his eyes filling with tears, looked up, blinked and nodded.