STERLING – A shovel leans against a railing on the porch of No. 26 at Woodlawn Mobile Home Park. After it snowed last week, no one used it. And no one brushed away snow from the owner’s pickup truck.
Jesus Torres lived there. But no one had seen him in a while.
On Sunday night, Sterling police discovered his body. They have released few details, other than to say they believed he died of natural causes.
A friend and a neighbor say they hadn’t seen Jesus, believed to be in his 40s, since mid-February.
His neighbor, Jackie Moreno, 26, said she and her husband moved 2 years ago into their home, which is in the mobile home park next to Don’s Seafood on West Lincolnway. Sometime afterward, Torres moved into his home, which is 10 feet away.
“We didn’t know much about him,” Moreno said. “We knew that he was our neighbor.”
They also knew he had medical problems. Jackie’s husband once took him to the hospital.
Jesus’ friend, Ramon Bernal, drove Jesus twice to the hospital. Jesus had stopped working because of his health, making it hard to keep up with his rent, Ramon said.
Jesus, who is from Mexico, lived in the area for more than a decade, Ramon said. He had a brother in Chicago.
Jackie said she and her husband would often hear Jesus turn on his black Dodge pickup truck to warm it up. It was loud.
But they stopped hearing that noise around mid-February. They started to wonder.
At one point, they considered knocking on Jesus’ door to check on him. But then they saw others do it, and he didn’t respond.
“We thought if he wouldn’t answer his door for friends or family, why would he for us?” she said.
Ramon figures his friend died around Feb. 14. He left a number of phone messages for Jesus, but got no return calls.
“I thought maybe he was mad at me,” said Ramon, who lives in Sterling.
Then Ramon started to worry. He checked the hospital. No record of Jesus there. He asked the police department if Jesus had been arrested. No arrests.
Saturday, Ramon asked police to check on Jesus. They did, Ramon said, but an officer spoke with someone in the neighborhood who knew little English. That person led the officer to believe Jesus was fine, Ramon said.
Sterling police Sgt. Steve Hubbard said his department checked on the welfare of someone in the neighborhood Saturday, and that person was “alive and well.” He didn’t have the name of the person whom the police were checking on.
On Sunday, Jesus’ brother drove in from Chicago. He and police went into Jesus’ mobile home and found his body, Ramon said.
County Coroner Joe McDonald was called. He hasn’t returned messages seeking comment.
Ramon has set up a bank account to raise money so that Jesus’ body can be taken to Mexico. In the first day, a couple of hundred dollars had been raised, Ramon said.
An account has been set up at Community State Bank to help with expenses associated with Jesus Torres, whose body was discovered Sunday.
Call Ramon Bernal at 815-590-0234 for more information.