Homeless Man Killed After He Was Set on Fire in Springfield

By John Cartwright

        Dennis R. Wade, 47, suffered severe 3rd degree burns over 80 percent of his body as he slept on the front porch of an abandoned house on the 13 of August 2002, according to Springfield Police Chief David Walters. After eight days in the hospital, Wade died from his injuries.

        Walters said that he believed that Dennis Wade was doused with gasoline or lighter fluid and then set afire by person or persons unknown at that time. The flames on Wade were extinguished before the Springfield, Ohio Fire Department arrived on the scene. Careflight took him to Miami Valley Hospital.

        Reportedly, Dennis Wade told paramedics at the scene, “I can’t believe they set me on fire.” His brother, Johnny Wade, told the Springfield News-Sun newspaper immediately after the incident that he didn’t expect his brother to survive the third-degree burns over 80 percent of his body.

        Wade’s brother held out little hope that his brother would survive, and Dennis Wade died on August 21. “He has no skin. The damage is done. He is not going to make it,” Johnny Wade said on August 14. Johnny said that he had been asked to sign a do-not-resuscitate order by the staff at Miami Valley Hospital. “That is the choice they are giving me.” He told the reporter.” I don’t want to lose him. I can’t bury him. I can’t afford it. I’ll figure something out.”

        Dennis Wade was reportedly sleeping on the porch of an abandoned house in Springfield because he had nowhere else to go. Springfield Police Chief Walters said that the incident is being treated as a homicide, and are investigating the circumstance to see if it is connected to another suspicious fire on August 3, 2002.

        “I can see people doing a lot of things to people, but this … burn is misery.” Johnny Wade said to the Springfield paper. “This burn is not trying to kill you, it’s putting you in misery.” Wade’s family is trying to find a way to bury Dennis who was indigent.

Published in the Homeless Grapevine August 2002, Cleveland Ohio. John Cartwright is a former volunteer with the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless who moved in 2001 to Springfield.

Published in the Homeless Grapevine, Cleveland Ohio August 2002 Issue 56