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Suspicious US bin death

February 10 2011
Chicago man may have died before he was crushed

An investigation has been launched in the US into the death of a homeless man in Chicago at the end of December. The man, believed to be in his mid-50s, was discovered near large rubbish bins in the so-called "Magnificent Mile", one of the most exclusive areas of the city.

Police originally believed the man had died after being crushed by the trash compacter that he frequently used to sleep in during cold weather - a hazard which annually claims the lives of several rough sleepers in the US and Britain. Temperatures in Chicago can frequently drop as low as -15 degrees Celsius in the winter, and the Chicago homeless population has frequently suffered from deaths and accidents from sheltering in bins and waste disposal units. Workers in an office building nearby had often seen the man camped out near the bins, which lead to early reports that he had been crushed to death.

"He was always hanging out back here," said Mary Glick, a worker in the building. "Last week, when it was so cold, we saw him out here with no coat on. Our dock girl ended up finding him gloves and a coat. A few days later, he was back here, with no coat."

Another worker said that the man had been shooed away from the area many times, but always seemed to return. Area detectives have now launched an investigation into his death, after their initial reports revealed that crushing was not the cause.