An elderly man at least two days missing showed up dead this weekend under a bridge in the 700 block of Workman Road.
Steven Bell, a 65-year-old resident of nearby Lynchburg Street, has been reported missing since Thursday. Police found his body around 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
Chattanooga Police Sgt. Wayne Jefferson said the case is still under investigation because of the suspicious nature in which the body was found.
Bell used a wheelchair to get around, his neighbors say, yet he ended up more than 1 mile away from his home with his wheelchair left in his yard. His body was found under a bridge with moving dark-green water surrounded by high trees and vines.
Jefferson said the police are waiting on the medical report to determine if Bell could have taken a walk from his home and accidentally fallen into the water.
"He could have passed out and fell over the bridge," Jefferson said.
Some friends and neighbors are concerned that Bell was killed for money.
None of them wanted to be identified, saying they are concerned that whoever allegedly hurt Bell could also hurt them.
"He was the best man in the world, and he had the best money in the world. That's why they killed him," said a man who called himself a close friend to Bell. He was talking to police officers about the investigation surrounding Bell, on the corner of Hooker Road and 41st Street.
Lynchburg is a quiet street that goes up a steep hill. There are only a few houses, mostly on one side of the street with lots of brush on the other. It's the type of neighborhood that goes years without crime. Some residents have lived there for decades with no worry about crime, they said. But lately residents have become cautious.
Someone broke into Bell's home about two or three weeks ago, neighbors said. Bell filled out a police report on the incident, said one. However, the report was not available at press time.
Neighbors got suspicious about Bell's whereabouts on Thursday when a man came to cut Bell's hair. The man knocked and waited, the door was unlocked, but no one answered. He asked neighbors if they had seen Bell. Neighbors said it wasn't normal for Bell to leave his door open and his television on when he wasn't home. Bell had lived in the community about five years, they said.
Friends and neighbors described him as a nice man who always greeted people. They say they hope whoever is responsible for his death is brought to justice.
Yolanda Putman has been a reporter at the Times Free Press for 11 years. She covers housing and previously covered education and crime. Yolanda is a Chattanooga native who has a master’s degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Alabama State University. She previously worked at the Lima (Ohio) News. She enjoys running, reading and writing and is the mother of one son, Tyreese. She has also ...