Feb. 5, 2002--Who was Louis Blanco?
His last meal was a package of raw hotdogs and a 12-pack of Milwaukee's Best beer. He ate--probably alone--in an old tobacco barn that hugs the edge of Disposal Plant Road just a couple hundred yards away off West Seventh Street.
The floor was covered with mounds of dusty hay. He tossed some of the red and gold beer cans onto crumpled sheets of milky white plastic discarded from some forgetten farm task. The skeleton of a small dog, still clinging to patches of brown fur on his head and legs, lay near him. The barn was drafty. On the east side, so close to the one-lane road that the man could have reached out and touched a passing car. There was a gaping hole where two wide doors had fallen from rusty hinges. During the day, white sunlight filled long vertical cracks between the weathered gray boards. At night, darkness filled the cracks, but he could see the headlights of cars passing up and down Seventh Street. He decided to end his life here. It was late last year, possibly around Thanksgiving, and he prepared for his death by writing a goodbye note to strangers. He scrawled his brief message with a pencil on a pair of 3 inch square, yellow PostIt notes. On one note he wrote," Thanks sheffirs, friends, because your help me when I needed something. I hope the Lord give you a happy life....I'm Louis Blanco." On the other one, which is barely legible, he offered to donate his liver to anyone who needed it. Then he stuffed the notes into his denim pants pocket and started to climb. From a wooden pallet leaning against the inside wall, he reached the first of seven horizontal beams. Beam by beam, he ascended to the top, carrying with him an inch thick white nylon rope. That's where city police found him on Jan.27, 2002, hanging from the top of an empty tobacco barn. "You walk into the barn one step and look straight up, and that's where he was," Detective Capt. Mary Martins said. "If you just walked into the barn and never looked up, you wouldn't have noticed him there." Police are trying to confirm the man's identity, although they believe his real name is Louis Blanco. Beyond that, they don't know where he came from or exactly how long he had been dead when found. The way he died, lonely and probably drunk on cheap beer, is especially sad, Martins said. She tried to imagine what his last day was like. "He doesn't have any hope, he's a wonderer, he's worked his butt off and has nothing to show for it." Police believe Blanco had not been in town long. The barn is about half a mile from the Greyhound Bus Station, so he could have arrived on a bus, walked to one of the convenience stores on Seventh Street to get the hotdogs and beer, then headed for the barn to eat and drink. He might have slept there a few days. Martins said she can only speculate that the sheriff mentioned in the suicide note was an officer in another town who once showed some kindness.... maybe a ride or some food for Blanco. Blanco had no wallet and no identification beyond the suicide note. That detail, in particular bothers Martin. "That's the saddest thing in the world to leave your suicide note on a PostIt," she said. "That says it all. It has hopelessness written all over it." Police hope to find Blanco's family. If they don't, he will be buried as a "John Doe" in the potter's field at the back of Riverside Cemetery.
--Someone, somewhere, loved Louis Blanco--
Somewhere in this world, there's someone who loved Louis Blanco. After all, he was someone's son. He might have been someone's brother or uncle or husband or even father.
At the very least, he was a friend to someone, somewhere. Somebody out there had to care about him. And somebody must be wondering what's become of him. To think otherwise is to believe the worst about life and people. Readers of this newspaper know that Louis Blanco--if that's even his real name--is dead. But the chances appear slim that his loved ones, wherever they are, will ever know what happened to him. That sad fact alone, is a crying shame.
What's even sadder is knowing that Louis Blanco died a lonely death, unnoticed and maybe unmissed for months. And no one should leave this earth that way--all alone in a world, without hope.
Every life matters. Every lost life is deserving of tears from someone, somewhere. Louis Blanco's hopes and dreams ended here in Hopkinsville, where the transient said his goodbye to the world and hanged himself.In the cruelest of ironies, he disposed of his life in an old tobacco barn located off Disposal Plant Road. His body was found Jan.27. Although police speculate he killed himself around Thanksgiving after eating a last meal of raw hot dogs and beer. Two PostIt notes found in his pants pocket contained his final thoughts: one thanked an unnamed policeman who befriended him in some way and ended with the words, "I'm Louis Blanco" and the other note expressed a desire to donate his liver to anyone who needed it. "That's the saddest thing in the world to leave your suicide note on a PostIt," said Detective Capt. Mary Martins of the city Police Department. "That says it all. It has hopelessness written all over it." Louis Blanco was Hispanic and may have been around 50 years old. He was 5 foot 6, weighed about 160 pounds and had black and gray shoulder length hair. At the time of his death, he had a small duffel bag with very little in it and less than a dollar in change to his name, according to police. No one knows what brought Louis Blanco to a town where he was a stranger, or more importantly, his reason for deciding that life no longer was worth living. No one knows whether he asked for help and was turned away. No one knows whether he looked for kindness and found only contempt. We wonder...and that's what makes some of us so uncomfortable about the publicity surrounding the death of someone none of us knew. We're bothered that maybe our community didn't do enough to reach out and help a fellow human being in trouble. Then, there's the horrible realization that, if not for the grace of God, Louis Blanco so easily could have been you or me. The ultimate irony in this tragic story, for sure, is that this mystery man most likely received more attention in death than he ever did in life. And that's reason enough for all of us to feel ashamed. Police are making efforts to try and find Louis Blanco's family to spare him the indignity of being buried as a "John Doe" in the potter's field at Riverside Cemetery. Maybe someone, somewhere, knows something that can help them bring closure to his loved ones. It's not too late to care.
--Suicide Victim Blanco remembered kindness of Crofton Police Chief--
One of the last people Louis Blanco thought about before he climbed to the highest tier of a tobacco barn and hanged himself was Crofton Police Cheif Chuck Gresham. In a suicide note that was scribbled with pencil on two yellow PostIt notes, Blanco hinted at the kindness of a person he referred to only as a "sheffirs." "Thanks," he wrote.... "because your help me when I needed something." When Gresham learned earlier this week that Hopkinsville Police had found remnants of Blanco's last meal... in particular, the wrapping from a package of hot dogs..in the barn on Disposal Plant Road, he realized that he was the police officer mentioned in the suicide note. Until then Gresham had all but forgotten about the Hispanic man he found walking alone one night on U.S.41 in Crofton. He had not made the connection between the suicide victim and the man he encountered about three months ago. "I can't pinpoint the day, but it was sometime in early November," Gresham said. "The wind was blowing real, real hard. It was cold." Blanco was found hanging in the barn in Hopkinsville on Jan.27, 2002. Police believe he had been dead for two or three months. He had no identification. In the suicide note, he said his name was Louis Blanco. Police are trying to establish his identity so they can contact his family. If they don't, Blanco probably will be buried in the potter's field at Riverside Cemetery. Gresham said the night he met Blanco, the man had no money. He told Gresham he had walked and hitch-hiked from Indiana, where he did seaonal farm work. He was from Mexico. Blanco said he had been in Crofton two years earlier. He was looking for a tobacco farmer who had given him work in the past. Gresham believed Blanco, although he suspected he was in the country illegally. Gresham's experience with U.S. immigration officials has been that they won't send an agent for one illegal alien. Rather than arrest him, Gresham decided to help Blanco. "You could tell he was a man down on his luck," Gresham said. Blanco did not ask for anything but Gresham knew he needed a meal and a place to sleep.I said, "do you have somewhere to go? It's cold. he said no." Gresham took Blanco to Crofton City Hall. When they got there, Kay Durham, a Crofton city councilwoman, went next door to the fire hall and took two packages of hot dogs from the freezer. Durham heated one package in the microwave oven, and Blanco quickly devoured the hot dogs.Blanco put the other package in his duffle bag along with several cans of soda, some bottled water and a blanket that Durham gave him. Gresham also gave Blanco $2 and Durham gave him $4 or $5.
Durham's blanket was found in the barn where Blanco died. Police also found several beer cans left over from a 12-pack of Milwaukee's Best beer that he apparently had with the second package of hot dogs. When Gresham last saw Blanco, he was leaving city hall to spend the night in a mobile home up the street. Two Mexican farm workers shared the mobile home and one of them had agreed to let Blanco stay there until he found work. The mobile home burned several weeks ago. Gresham hasn't been able to find the two men who lived there to ask them about Blanco. Gresham found a piece of paper in his office this week with "Louis Blanco" written on it. He remembers that he had asked Blanco to write his name because he was having trouble understanding him. "His English was very broken," he said.Police don't know when Blanco left Crofton. He could have walked the 10 miles to Hopkinsville on U.S.41. The barn where Blanco died is less than a mile from Gresham's house. He sees it every time he drives down Seventh Street. It is a haunting reminder of the mysterious man Gresham tried to help on a cold, windy night last November. "It was kind of strange," Gresham said, "What gets me is how he ended up here in Hopkinsville in that barn. I can't figure it out." Gresham said he wishes now that he had done more for Blanco, his voice trembling. He wonders why he was desperate enough to take his own life. "It really bothers me. I've got a bad feeling I could have done something else," he said.
--Man's mystery follows him to grave--
A small aluminum marker at the head of the man's grave identifies him as Louis Blanco. His true identity is still a mystery.And unless authorities learn otherwise, he will be remembered in Hopkinsville by the name he gave in a suicide note before climbing to the highest tier of a tobacco barn near west Seventh Street and hanging himself late last year. It was the only clue he left behind. His final message, written on two yellow PoatIt notes that he stuffed into his denim pants, include this: "Thanks sheffirs, friends, because your help me when I needed something. I hope the Lord give you a happy life.... I'm Louis Blanco."His body was discovered on Jan.27. He was buried Friday morning in the pauper's section of Riverside Cemetery. "That name had to come from somewhere," said Dorris Lamb, county coroner and owner of Lamb's Funeral home, which handled the burial. "That's the only name we have," Lamb said."Officially, he's a John Doe on the death certificate but we decided to put Louis Blanco on the grave."Christian Fiscal Court paid $400 for the burial expenses, the standard fee the county allows to bury anyone who is unidentified. Prior to Friday's burial, the body had been held at the examiner's morgue in Madisonville. When city police found his body, the man had no identification. He was Hispanic, according to the regional medical examiner's report, and probably between 45 and 50 years old. He was 5-foot-6, weighed about 160pounds and had black and gray shoulder length hair. For many people in the community, his final message of his death were haunting. He apparently was traveling alone when he arrived in Hopkinsville last year, probably November. The ME estimated that he died in late Nov. or early Dec. Detective Capt. Mary Martin said Hopkinsville Police have not been able to identify the man. His fingerprints do not match any prints on file with the FBI or the Immigration and Naturaliation Service. "A case is never closed but we don't have anything on him," Martins said."You never know when some family might came looking for him." Until then, he will be known as Louis Blanco. At the burial, Lamb recited the 23rd Psalm and led a brief prayer while a funeral home employee and two cemetery workers stood beside the grave. After covering the coffin with dirt, they placed a small arrangement of red and white carnations on his grave. Lamb said Metcafle Floral donated the flowers.
--Louis Blanco now secure with headstone--
MORE THAN anything in the World, the man known only as Louis Blanco must have wanted someone to remember him. He said as much in his suicide note. He wrote the message on a pair of PostIt notes and climbed high into a tobacco barn off west Seventh street and hanged himself.When police found his body late last January, they pulled the note from his denim pants pocket. It said, "Thanks sheffirs, friends, because your help me when I needed something. I hope the Lord give you a happy life...I'm Louis Blanco." When he wrote "sheffirs," the man apparently was referring to Crofton Police Chief Chuck Gresham, who later recalled helping a man matching the description of the suicide victim. It was late one night in November, 2001, and the man was walking alone. he said he had no money. Gresham and a friend gave him some food, a blanket and money and found a place for him to stay for the night. He later disappeared and they forgot about him until they heard about a man found in the barn on Disposal Plant Road and the note left behind. The man had no other identification. He had been dead for several weeks when his body was discovered.City police could never positively identify him, althogh they believe his name was Louis Blanco. The name is all they had. It seemed like something he wanted people to remember. Someone did. Last summer, a few weeks after Blanco was buried in the pauper's section of Riverside Cemetery, a North Christian County woman collected donations for a headstone for his grave. When she took the money---$170 to the old Hopkinsville Monument office next to the cemetery on North Main Street and asked what she could buy. She told office manager Greg Ramey that she didn't want to give her name. Her name didn't matter, she said. She was just an angel of mercy, she said.
The woman didn't have enough money to buy a headstone. Ramey agreed to makeup the difference but said he needed a name to fill out a contract for his records. "We had to put a name on the contract, so she came up with Ann Rose." "That was her idea," he said. Ramey didn't know the woman and had never seen her before. But like him, she had read about Blanco in the Kentucky New Era and was apparently moved by the suicide note. "I just felt so sorry for the guy." Ramey said.When he designed the headstone, Ramey decided that it had to include Blanco's final message exactly as he wrote it, including the misspelled reference to a sheriff. Ramey said it just didn't feel right to change even a misspelled word. "I thought, no, he wrote this and I'm going to do it just like he wrote it," he said.
A BIG HEART FILLED THANK YOU TO SHERRI SNEED FARR FOR SPONSERING THIS PAGE. PLEASE ALSO VISIT HER HUSBAND's FATHER'S AND MOTHER'S SITE. GOD BLESS
Created by: USAFBRAT68
Record added: Jan 30, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 17754241