The man was found on the second floor of an abandoned building, laying on a thin, foam mattress. A coat and a hat were his only protection from the extremely cold temperatures.
It wasn't nearly enough.
"It looks like he just laid down and went to sleep and didn't wake up," Ogden Police Lt. Scott Sangberg said Thursday.
Police believe the cold may have contributed to the death of the 44-year-old man whose body was found Wednesday afternoon on the second floor of a boarded up building at 2314 Washington Blvd. Detectives are having had a hard time notifying next of kin, because he was homeless.
"He's a local transient-type individual who has been in and out of jail," Sangberg said. "In fact, he had a citation in his pocket out of Riverdale for something."
Police and homeless advocates say the man's death didn't have to happen. But as the state endures sub-freezing temperatures, authorities fear there may be more like him.
"It's really unfortunate," said Jennifer Canter, who runs the St. Anne's shelter on Binford Street. "There are places he could have gone."
The cold temperatures have been bringing in the homeless. St. Anne's has been packed for the past week, their 100 beds all taken. Canter has made room by letting people sleep in hallways and in the lobby. If it gets worse, she's not afraid to open the cafeteria up to sleep 20 to 30 more people.
No matter how bad it gets, some people still refuse to come in from the cold. Part of it's mental health issues and another part of it is the transient lifestyle, police said.
"They don't like the structured life," Sangberg said. "They don't like people telling them what to do."
Canter agrees, citing the shelter's rules about closing the doors at 8 p.m. and not letting people go outside for a cigarette. Still, she is willing to bend the rules every now and then.
"Even though we lock our door at 8, we still bring people in all night long," she said. "We'll find them a spot."
For those who refuse to stay in a shelter, St. Anne's and the other shelters in Ogden hand out blankets and sleeping bags. Transient camps are up and down the Weber River, police said, and people often stay there all winter long without problems.
"Neither the Rescue Mission or St. Anne's will turn anybody away on a night like that," said Sangberg. "If they're intoxicated beyond that that's one of the reasons we arrest a drunk."
Even if a homeless man goes to jail for public intoxication, he's still alive the next day, Sangberg argues. There is no evidence the transient who died had been drinking, although he has a record of alcohol arrests, police said.
"If this individual had run into our officers that night, he'd have been in jail or we'd have given him a ride to St. Anne's to see if they could take care of him," Sangberg said.
Canter said news will travel fast on the streets about the man's death. It may persuade others to seek shelter.
"I suspect we'll find a lot more individuals living in these abandoned buildings," she said. "If anything good can come out of this, now it forces more people and law enforcement to go out and check these areas."
She urges people to keep an eye on abandoned buildings in the Ogden area, because someone may be living there. At the abandoned building on Washington Boulevard, the windows were boarded up but police said one had been pried away so the man could get inside for shelter."Unfortunately, I think that it happens a lot more than people realize," Canter said. "There might be people living in the building right next door."
E-mail: [email protected]