Body found behind South Bend business identified
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - 16 News Now learned the identity of the man investigators say died of natural causes overnight behind a business on South Bend’s west side.
The man was 42-year-old Larry Thomas Smith Jr.
His body was found behind JP Auto Sales in the 3800 block of Western Avenue.
By collaborating with the business owner, investigators saw the surveillance video showing Smith Jr. spending several hours out in the cold, most of that time just yards from where he was found.
A South Bend police officer told 16 News Now they arrived on the scene just before 8:00 A.M., and shortly after they pronounced Smith Jr. dead.
While the man spent his last night without shelter, coroner Mike McGann told me Smith Jr. had family members that live near where they found his body.
“It appeared he had been here for quite some time. Probably all the way through the night. He was very cold, very stiff. They have video footage from the auto store here and it shows him coming from the west to the east, then to the back of the building, and collapsing,” said St. Joseph County Coroner Mike McGann.
When we spoke with Smith Jr.’s family, they were already dealing with the loss of a loved one, on the way back from a funeral.
Family members came by to put balloons where investigators found Smith Jr.’s body early Friday morning.
His brother said Smith Jr. was on medication to manage his type one diabetes but was low on his medication after being unable to see a doctor due to a scheduling mistake.
Emotionally torn, his mother is still waiting for her chance to say goodbye to her son.
“I love him and nothing in life is that hard. I don’t know. It’s as if I’m still holding his last breath. It’s just something I can’t give up. I don’t know why. I never expected to lose a child. I always wanted to leave this world before I see anything happen to my kids, so I don’t know,” said Smith Jr.’s mother Peggy Williams.
St. Joseph County Metro Homicide Unit originally responded to the scene, before handing off to the coroner once it was determined Smith Jr. died of natural causes.
The family set up a GoFundMe page to help cover the burial and memorial service.
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