The state medical examiner will determine an official cause of death for a homeless man found dead by the railroad tracks near downtown Shawnee, although exposure to the elements is suspected as a possible cause.
Shawnee police identified the man as Gary Lynn Roy, 49, who is reported to be from the Seminole area.
Shawnee Police Chief Russell Frantz said reports indicate Roy had been homeless for a while and was reportedly staying in the woods off the railroad tracks between Highland and Wallace Streets.
His body was discovered late Thursday by Shawnee police officers, who began a search in the area after someone went to the Pottawatomie County sheriff’s office and reported seeing a body.
Frantz said Friday that the medical examiner would determine Roy’s official cause of death, but information wasn’t yet available from the Office of Chief Medical Examiner late Friday.
Roy’s body was found the day after a winter storm moved through the area with overnight conditions that involved sleet, flurries and freezing rain.
Those who knew Roy were sad to hear the news, as was reflected on a Facebook page for the Shawnee Rescue Mission.
“We are sorry to say that one of our precious friends, Gary Roy, who was homeless, passed away as he had no shelter and froze to death…,” the SRM statement reads. “Gary was loved by all and will be greatly missed by all of us at Shawnee Rescue Mission.”
Lt. Philip Canning from the Salvation Army said he couldn’t divulge whether or not Roy had been assisted at its overnight shelter in the past, but said the Salvation Army’s doors were open to all for the past few nights under its cold weather policy. That policy kicks in when conditions are forecast to be below 32 degrees overnight, he said.
“Even if we’re at full capacity, we’ll take those who come in and set up cots and mattresses,” Canning said. “It’s not a situation where someone is turned away…our doors were open.”