Homeless man lay dead in downtown Macon for nearly two days before he was noticed

The alley where the victim, Albert Kenneth Knight Jr., 59, was beaten is a busy pedestrian shortcut between Poplar and Cherry streets, two of the area’s busiest roads. The wide alley runs behind a long-demolished building that once housed the flagship store of the city’s famous Nu-Way Weiners. The crime scene is about 100 feet from where the Otis Redding Center for the Arts is being built.

“As far as the motivation or reason for the action goes,” the sheriff said, “everything is up for debate at this point.”

No similar attacks have been reported here in recent months.

The alley in downtown Macon where Albert Kenneth Knight Jr. was beaten to death on May 24. (Joe Kovac Jr. / AJC)

Photo credit: Joe Kovac Jr.

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Photo credit: Joe Kovac Jr.

Sheriff’s officials have released few details about the possibly spurious incident, other than statements that Knight was hit several times and died of “a severe head injury.”

On June 1, six days after Knight’s body was discovered, authorities asked the public for help in locating a suspect. They released video footage and screenshots of a man they believe attacked Knight. The suspect can be seen walking past in the alley where the body was found.

According to police, the suspect was wearing blue jeans, black shoes, glasses, a baseball cap and a mint green T-shirt that read “Hilton Head Island Bike Shop.”

What they haven’t mentioned in the press releases so far is how long Knight’s body went unnoticed. The alley is sometimes used by homeless people as a place to sleep. Passersby may have assumed that Knight, whose face and part of his body were covered with a blanket, was resting.

“I didn’t think people were so callous that they saw him lying there and thought he was dead and didn’t call anyone,” Davis said Tuesday. “I think someone came by and saw him and … just noticed he hadn’t moved and called (for help).”

According to a deputy sheriff’s dispatch report, Knight was asleep at the time of the attack. His body, which was found just before noon on Sunday, May 26, had been there since about 8 p.m. the previous Friday.

The officer who answered the call wrote in the report: “I uncovered his face and noticed blood… and ants covering his face.”

Sister Theresa Sullivan, director of the Daybreak Day Resource Center, a day shelter for the homeless on the eastern edge of downtown Macon, had known Knight since she moved to the city eight years ago.

She said he was in the process of applying for an apartment in a newly available permanent shelter.

“I love seeing everyone come off the streets, but I was so excited that Ken would be one of them,” she said Monday. “He was a gentle soul.”

Sullivan said Knight was a rather reserved person and she never saw him, as she put it, “get into an argument” with anyone.

“He was very, very nice,” she said. “Just a very nice guy.”

She and others at the home saw photos of the suspect and did not recognize him.

“It was not done by the homeless community,” Sullivan said, “or by the homeless community that visits Macon.”

The Macon Newsroom, a nonprofit local news station, interviewed Knight’s son, Albert Knight III, who said his father was “addicted to drugs for years” and lived on the streets for decades.

“My father had many vices,” said the son, “but he didn’t deserve what he got. I really hope they find the perpetrator and he rots 2 meters under the prison. … Especially if what they say is true, that he was sleeping and there was no reason for it.”

A picture of a man identified by investigators as a suspect in the May 24 death of a homeless man in downtown Macon. (Bibb County Sheriff's Office)

Photo credit: Bibb County Sheriff’s Office

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Photo credit: Bibb County Sheriff’s Office