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UPDATED: Woman Found Dead in Front of Ballston Common Mall

by ARLnow.com — January 28, 2011 at 10:16 am 5,103 98 Comments

A woman, believed to be homeless, was found dead in front of Ballston Common Mall this morning, Arlington Police spokeswoman Det. Crystal Nosal confirms.

The deceased woman was found on the stairs outside Macy’s, in the alleyway between the mall and a Chipotle restaurant. Police are on the scene investigating.

Update at 4:40 p.m. — Police have released the following statement about the incident.

ARLINGTON, VA. – The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is investigating the death of a woman discovered this morning.

At approximately 9:49 a.m., police and medic units were called to the 4300 block of Wilson Boulevard for an unresponsive person. Upon arrival, it was apparent that the person was deceased. The victim is an adult female, who was possibly homeless. The investigation is on going, and more details will be released when available.

Anyone who has information about this incident is asked to call the Arlington County Police Department Tip Line at 703 228-4242, or Detective Alan Lowrey at (703) 228-4199.

  • http://blacknell.net/dynamic MB

    Ouch. I’m sorry we failed him.

    • mehoo

      There’s a difference between failing to help someone who is homeless get back on their feet and failing to save their life. Even if you think it’s someone’s own fault for being homeless and they shouldn’t get help for that problem, we ought to try to save the life of anyone stuck out in the cold, homeless or not.

      • How?

        How exactly should we all “try to save the life of anyone stuck out in the cold”? Should the police forceably commit the homeless to shelters, even if they don’t want to go?

        Should I invite anyone out on the street into my apartment for the night when the temperature dips below freezing? Do you?

        • mehoo

          The way we actually do save some of those people. We have a winter shelter, and on really cold nights, people go around looking for homeless people where they hang out.

          No, I didn’t say you had to invite them into your home.

          Someone apparently froze to death. The fact that they didn’t have a home, or whether they are responsible for not having a home, really doesn’t matter. It’s a life or death situation.

      • Zack

        Maybe you should open up your home to them, instead of preaching from your high horse. It’s a problem nobody has a good (realistic, effective, PC) answer for.

      • DD

        With the homeless I’ve had the pleasure of trying to help, they say, “stop trying to help, I’m doing what I want to do when I want to do it.” So be it.

    • well…

      I think you’re casting a pretty broad stroke here. Many homeless people are mentally ill which ultimately leads them to the streets if untreated.

      • Westover

        Sad but true. It is not as easy as just “helping” these folks. Many don’t want the help, or can’t mentally deal with the help. There IS help available. IF we force these folks into programs, others opposed that for taking away their freedoms. In a free society, we do a ton for the homeless. But short of institutionalizing them as was once done, there is only so much that can be done, and in Arlington County we do a TON. This is sad, but there is no one to blame except fate.

      • Deb

        Indeed…many of the people who benefited from mental health programs were cast to the side during the Reagan Administration….I actually saw a homeless guy in a wheel chair challenge a METRO bus…everyone on the bus waited for the police to come to take the guy away. He was a well-known local homeless guy…off his medicines…who was cast out of a shelter during those years because he wasn’t considered a threat to the public. Another DUH moment….I see these type of folks outside in all types of weather…It is not us who are afraid of them…but they are absolutely terrified of the world…yet dependent upon the generosity of strangers for their next meal. I am sure Reagan would be SOOOO proud of his legacy.

        • Arlington, Northside

          Tipp O’Neill is equally at fault.

    • Greg

      Unless by “we” you are referring to yourself that’s pretty rough to put that death on the County workers and volunteers who deal with the homeless. Homeless don’t always go to shelters, they avoid outreach efforts. Who knows what happened here. That’s quite a stretch from this article to say anyone failed to prevent a death here.

      • Society

        Maybe they meant “we” as in “society” or the “human race”, not any particular person or specific group of people (i.e. county workers).

        • BoredHouseWife

          Yeah:(

      • http://blacknell.net/dynamic MB

        I’m not blaming the County. I’m blaming all of us. And hoping that this – on our doorsteps – will be remembered when we talk about the kind of community we want to be.

        • Greg

          Again, if you feel guilty about this for some reason and want to do something about it, fine. Otherwise, stop placing blame on others for “failing” when you have absolutely no idea what happened here. It’s so cliche and frankly a little condescending.

          • http://blacknell.net/dynamic MB

            I know, Greg, the idea is too big for you.

          • Dude Where’s My Car

            soooo scratch out We The People and replace it with We Handful of White Male Land-Owning Gentry :-D

          • Set the controls

            Greg, I have to concur. Snap judgments are not constructive, or sympathetic.

        • DD

          Doesn’t somebody over 21 have the right to make their own decisions, be they good or bad? The outreach workers can only ask them if they want help…. if they refuse, it’s their right. I would hope they would accept help but it is what it is…..

  • Rick

    This is very unfortunate. I see a lot of homeless people sleeping on the church steps at Fairfax and Stafford, I hope ASPAN and AFAC get through ballston every now and then and offer these people shelter at night.

  • Lou

    That’s bad. I went by on Wilson around 7:30, seemed like a normal day, people going back and forth to work. To think there was some deceased person right there is disturbing.

  • KalashniKEV

    I’m not going to say a thing…

    • mehoo

      Then don’t post at all.

      • DD

        Do what I say and not as I do, huh?

        • DouroDouro

          Exactly :)

  • NSF

    They found a dead body in a stairwell at NSF a couple of weeks back. I never heard any follow up information, though.

    • http://www.arlnow.com ARLnow.com

      The NSF death was reported to be a suicide.

  • JamesE

    This is sad news but the homeless situation here is getting absurd.

    • KalashniKEV

      +1000 (I still didn’t say anything… that’s just numbers!)

      • ClarendonKing

        I’m thinking what you ain’t saying.

        • DouroDouro

          Nobody wants to hear it.

    • DouroDouro

      -1000

  • nsf-er

    The dead body at NSF wasn’t actually in a stairwell – it was somewhere in the atrium of NSF – where the back of the Front Page, etc. are. The lady hung herself with her scarf, and people found her early that morning. Very sad, but at least I am not looking over my shoulder every five seconds when I take the stairs.

    • Lou

      Yikes

      • Katie

        +1

  • http://www.arlnow.com ARLnow.com

    Just to update, a tipster is telling us that police on the scene are referring to the deceased as “her.” Initial reports suggested the individual was a homeless man. We’ll update the story with any confirmed information as it becomes available.

  • charlie

    before ASPAN started its “enabling” there were no homeless people in Ballston. And yes, the economy sucked then too. ASPAN is responsible for any homeless person. They provide some help but not enough. All or none. I’d vote for none.

    I had the pleasure a few years ago of riding the wonderful 38B with a bunch of homeless people leaving their “work” at the Rosslyn Metro. Not sure where they went as I got off at Washington Circle. But those three highly odorous homeless people working the Rosslyn Metro are not from Arlington.

    • mehoo

      “before ASPAN started its “enabling” there were no homeless people in Ballston.”

      Got proof?

      “But those three highly odorous homeless people working the Rosslyn Metro are not from Arlington.”

      Again, how do you know?

      • charlie

        odorous — they stink. yes, one of them sat in front of me.
        ASPAN provides food and blankets. they littered Clarendon Park; then moved to the Library and the homeless littered Quincy Park; now they are in Ballston. They provide food and nothing else.
        Blankets: great. They should require the people to move to the shelter at night.
        Given food and blankets to people on the street is nice but it doesn’t get them off the streets and into better situations. it only continues their plight.

        And yes Banksy, I do feel this way. I’m a very compassionate person. But many of our homeless aren’t from here. Many come here because of the free handouts. Yes, I know because I have talked to several over the years.

        If we don’t offer a full range of services and REQUIRE that people get their lives stabilized, they will only continue to get worse. And, unfortunately, die curled up in a corner outside a building. Where is the humanity in that? No, it sucks and it would be a horrible way to die. Each hour getting colder and colder and colder until you pass out and then eventually die.

        • mehoo

          Your attitude is part of the reason they don’t get the services they need to get their lives stabilized in the first place.

          • Lou

            Pretty sure the County Board does not care about anyone’s opinion on the internet. They’re enabled to act on their own. The need for a permanent homeless shelter was even brought to their attention last year by the local Boy Scouts during a public meeting.

          • mehoo

            I was speaking in general terms.

          • Westover

            Unless you lock them up, they are not going to get the help they “need”. We need to have a safety net for the economically homeless, bad luck could do it to any of us, but a lot of that help is enableing the mentally ill homeless and attracting them to the County.

          • mehoo

            That’s a baseless assertion.

          • a_hoo_too

            This is a tragic story. Everyone, do yourselves a favor and Google/listen to “Underneath the Stars” by Peter Case (an eerily applicable song). May we all show some compassion.

          • Westover

            My assertion is not baseless at all, but comes from five years of volunteering in a homeless shelter. Some of the folks are on hard times and do need help, but those that are in the situation long term are generally schizophrenics who need mental help, not job skills. Mental help that is not available in the shelters and help they won’t seek out.

          • Zack

            Boom, roasted.

        • Banksy

          “I’m a very compassionate person. But many of our homeless aren’t from here.” = DOES NOT COMPUTE.

        • BoredHouseWife

          How about we stop acting like douches towards each other.
          They are humans not chattel.

          • DouroDouro

            +100

        • MB

          Seems like what you are saying is reasonable, the truth is harsh sometimes, but you are right putting a bandaid on a bad situation doesn’t help anyone. These people do need rehab and mental health services.

          I moved to Ballston a year ago and have had some very scary experiences. I’m trying to move out of that area because I feel it is dangerous in the evening. It does seem like the city/county does allow people to run a little wild around there and the bus hub doesn’t help either.

          A good tax-paying citizen shouldn’t have to fear for their lives in an area that is so expensive to live in. Where is our tax money going in Arlington??

          • http://blacknell.net/dynamic MB

            I’m trying to move out of that area because I feel it is dangerous in the evening.

            May I suggest Mayberry?

            Good lord, Ballston dangerous at anytime is ridiculous.

          • JamesE

            Fear for your life in Ballston? really?

          • Anon

            I agree. A woman walking by herself might not feel safe in Ballston. There are a lot of aggressive/insane homeless people – and often few other people around at night/early morning. I’ve crossed the street many times to avoid confrontation with people yelling to themselves.

          • Maria

            If they’re yelling to themselves, how is that a confrontation?

          • Maria

            What scary experiences have you had? I’m a young female, and I’ve walked around Ballston at all times of night and day for 3.5 years, and I can’t think of one time I felt unsafe. Yes, there are people who yell to themselves or ask for money (though very, very rarely), but I just don’t find that threatening. I’m not saying you’re not entitled to feel how you want to feel, but I’m just curious to know what has happened to you that makes to you want to move out of Ballston, of all places.

          • ScaredofBallston?

            It’s so dangerous in Ballston… you should flee to the suburbs. I’m sure it’s much safer in Springfield, Annandale and Manassas.

    • Banksy

      Wow. Are you just a troll, charlie, or do you really feel this way?

      • charlie

        yep. very angry. i work hard to pay my arlington taxes.

        • LuLu

          work hard complaining on a local blog about how the homeless people smell and “aren’t from here”??

          • charlie

            i try to make my comments be useful. could you?

          • mehoo

            That’s what you call useful?

          • charlie

            to me. yeah. :0

          • Ballston

            is that Charlie Sheen posting?

          • charlie

            i wish i were as good looking; as wealthy and had such luck with the ladies. oh 2 out of three maybe.

        • DouroDouro

          from all the complaining you do, you’d think that you pay all of our freaking taxes for us.

      • AllenB

        He’s both.

        • charlie

          and so are you Allen.
          btw, what is a troll?

  • My Hood

    Very sad. Can you imagine how bad your life must be to hang yourself with a scarf in the freezing cold?

    • nsf-er

      I think the saddest part is wanting to have your last breaths be in the lobby of an office building in Ballston. Or anywhere by the Ballston Mall for that matter…the NSF atrium, by Macy’s, off of the Ballston Mall parking garage. Ballston – the place people come to die.

      • My Hood

        Couldn’t agree more.

      • JamesE

        I would like to die inside Rustico

  • Anon

    I think you all need to learn a little more about the services provided to help people in Arlington instead of complaining on here. Homeless shelters and services around here do as much as they can with the funds they are provided by donations and grants. Complain a little less, help a little more. No everyone is as lucky as you.

    • charlie

      i have long taken a stance that our great wonderful liberal board really isn’t all that. if they were, they wouldn’t have boy scouts begging them to open a shelter. it would be open. and operating. and people wouldn’t be dying in the streets.
      they don’t have the funds they need. it is not a democrat tradition to skimp on social services. so why aren’t our services fully funded.

      • mehoo

        So the board isn’t as liberal as people say? Bet you call them a bunch of liberals soon.

        • charlie

          nope. lived in New England too long. i know what a true liberal is. haven’t seen one on our board in a few years.

          • mehoo

            Tell that to all the whiners who say they’re liberal, please.

          • DD

            Are you talking from experience?

  • Steve

    As an employee right by where this happened i can tell you that it was a middle aged black female found deceased. She was found in the stairwell leading from the garage under 4300 wilson to the side alley door of macy’s. She is a well known about homeless individual seen in the area often who has used that staircase for shelter in the past.

    • Rick

      Is she the woman with her husband that hop from coffee shop to coffee shop in the morning? I see them at marvelous market every now and then when i’m in for my coffee first thing in the morning

  • Arlwhenever

    Just an observation. The block bordered by Wilson, Randolph and Quincy, that had the bus barn, where Founders’ Square is being developed was “home” to many homeless going back for years, with multiple hiding places and semi-protected nooks and crannies and an accessible bus or two stored in the rear. The homeless residents no doubt have been displaced by re-development. So it is.

  • Bender

    Rather than constructing all of these luxury apartment high-rises, which benefit only the well-to-do, the County should be constructing a couple of full-service hundred-bed shelters for the homeless along the Ballston-Rosslyn corridor.

    But somehow, I don’t think that the oh-so-progressive types want homeless people around to stink up their precious Urban Village. That would not be smart growth.

    • mehoo

      It’s so easy to just assume things, isn’t it?

      • Bender

        No need to assume anything. Anyone can see for themselves that of all of the “mixed uses” of all of this hyper-construction, NONE of it is a homeless shelter in, say, Virginia Square or Clarendon.

        • mehoo

          That wasn’t your assumption though, was it?

          • Bender

            Well, you are obviously assuming about what I am assuming because I don’t know know what it is that I am supposed to be assuming about.

        • My Hood

          I lived in VA Square across from St. George’s. A homeless man always slept on their steps and I can’t tell you how many times I saw him pants down taking a dump on the church grass.

    • Mid-Class Help

      I’d just like help for middle class working men and women with one income (under $100K) and without mommy and daddy’s help. It be nice to be able to afford something in the area.

      I want to party with Charlie Sheen

    • BoredHouseWife

      That would only occur if there was a benefactor. You want to attract well-to-dos, because that means more tax money for the county. Spending money on a shelter that houses people without means is just not economically feasible.
      We should complain a little less and love a little more.

  • http://arlingtondirt.blogspot.com/ TGEoA

    They should name the new doggie water park after her.

  • Michael

    I am not a homeless advocate but I think people should think before they speak. If you or both you and your spouse/partner lost your job— how many paycheck(s) would it take before you were in the same situation?

    • Anon

      Well over a year – and by then I’m positive I could have a job at anyone of the establishments opening in Clarendon. Its called an emergency fund.

  • Frink

    My favorite is the guy with the crutch who patrols the Court House Metro CVS. He usually has a pretty good begging technique although back in November he cursed me out for only giving him 3-4 pennies. Not as bad as the M Street guy with the “Bills Only” cup but Arlington is fast becoming a hot spot for the region’s most discriminating panhandlers.

  • darlene

    Have some compassion on the less fortunate! You never know it could be you sitting on the steps in freezing weather taking your last breath! Hell, who knows maybe she was mentally ill, maybe she was sick – who knows. God Bless her ANYWAY! she was a human being who deserved better than what she ended up with!

  • DT

    She was probably looking for something good at Ballston Commons and died before she found it.

  • darlene

    DT what a cute and funny comment! You are just a riot! Maybe you should get over yourself! Ja!

  • darlene

    Just think one day people will be joking about you. Ha ha ha ja funny then huh?

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