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homelessness | human & civil rights

Perception Leads to Heartache and grief

R.J. anheier died 1-04-07 but no friends or family were notified until 3-19-07 after he was donated to O.H.S.U
Perception Lleads to Hheartache and Ggrief

On January 4,2007 Robert {R.J.} Anheier collapsed at 6th and West Burnside and later died at Good Samaritanthe hospital from heart failure. He was a kind and gentle soul who was perceived from the start of this tragedy to be homeless because of his appearance. That false assumption and the Medical Examiner's unwillingness to locate R.J.'s family and friends which eventually led to him being donated to O.H.S.U. as a cadaver. as indigent and unclaimed. Why you may ask did this happen? The answer to that has many parts and so called mistakes and what I consider to be a flawed law in Oregon.

When R.J. died in the hospital E.R. he was seen as homeless though all the facts pointed to the opposite. but because of his appearance he was labeled as such. He had the keys to his apartment on him, his state I.D. with his address and apartment number, and fifteen dollars in cash. still Aall of this was ignored by the Medical Examiner's office during their investigation. and attempts to notify next of kin, Wwe were have been told in a meeting with them this was due to inexperience of the investigators on the case. I believe it was because they saw him as homeless and wanted to be done with the case as soon as possible.

A man named Jeff Anheier was contacted on the 5th of January as possible next of kin, but he told the investigators on the 7th that he was no relation and that is where their investigation ended. R.J. was sent to the funeral home who then sent or donated him to O.H.S.U. for (insert here the amount of money). as a cadaver because he was deemed indigent and unclaimed and As pper OR. Statute 97.170 any indigent unclaimed or child in the custody of the state must be offered to O.H.S.U. as a cadaver. He was not indigent and would have been claimed had the M.E.'s office done their job correctly.

This all resulted in none of his friends or family knowing what happened to him until March 19th 2007. The subsequent attempts to excuse or cover up what went wrong only serve to perpetuate the problem. Our attempt, accessing the same software the M. E.'s office used, brought up R.J.'s best friends and his sister. My friend and brother deserves red better than the way he was treated, but at least he is with family now and we continue are trying to change policies at the State so that this does not happen to anyone else or their family and friends again

This is horrible 15.May.2007 22:51


I also read about this in the Sisters of the Road newsletter. What can we do to make sure this does not happen again? Each and every one of us deserves better than this. Assumptions about where we 'fit' in this community can be very limiting and sometimes lead to awful decisions like this one. R.J. was a valued person with family and friends. Because of that, we are stunned that he was disregarded and 'sold' to OHSU. I am also shocked that persons without anyone to stand for them are sold. Is it right at all?

What... 15.May.2007 23:12


... over 2 months and none of his friends or family reported him missing? When I don't hear from my elderly friends in 4 or 5 days (in some cases 48hrs), I contact the police and have them checked on. Shame on everyone involved.

missing the point 16.May.2007 07:11


He had IDENTIFICATION. He had a local address. He had relatives in the area, be they not as attentive as you may have been. Could be that due to his lifestyle, the family was forced to allow him more autonomy and anonymity than you, or your very fortunate relatives might accept. Still, he was a human being, with proper id and a home to go to, and because we assume that he is homeless, and therefore somehow beneath our caring, his family was denied the final farewell. I do not know whether they would have wanted, or accepted, the responsibility for his burial, but they should have been given the opportunity to accept or demur.

more facts about this 16.May.2007 12:00

matt barrett

First of all we did try and check on him yet where he lived in an S.R.O. you have to call a payphone in the hall and ask for him and if he is not there you get told so there were also rumors of him taking a trip to see his sister or other friends, If the M.Ee. office had done their job correctly and fully there would not have been a lapse in contact or knowing where he was, I knew him for 20 yrs and we always kept in touch Yes I did blame myself for not having done more but I am not the one who didn't do their job completly . Inexperience is why we were told this happened I say it was inexcuseable neglect and failure to do the job they were assigned