Victim in fatal stabbing left streets for new life helping homeless


Highlights

Glen Burford was residing in a boarding home in East Austin after living on the streets, friends said.

Burford would share pamphlets and documents about homeless services to other folks he knew on the streets.

Friends are mourning the death of a man who had escaped the danger of living on Austin’s streets and was on the verge of making a better home for himself, only to be slain by an attacker last week.

Glen Burford, 51, who was found with a fatal stab wound at an East Austin bus stop, was a regular writer for The Challenger Street Newspaper, a monthly publication that covers the homeless community.

Burford was formerly homeless himself, said the newspaper’s editor and director, Valerie Romness. At 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Burford’s friends plan to remember him by gathering under a tree at Auditorium Shores, where a memorial plaque honors homeless individuals who have died in Austin.

“He’ll be deeply missed,” Romness said. The staff meeting Wednesday “was rather shocking because we had just talked to him last week. … It’s shaken us up,” she said.

Romness said she has no clue who would have killed Burford or why.

Austin police got a 911 call March 10 at 7:53 p.m. about a man, later identified as Burford, who collapsed near a bus stop at East Seventh and Comal streets. He died soon after medics drove him to University Medical Center Brackenridge. Police said they believe Burford was stabbed nearby before making his way to the bus stop.

Austin police haven’t yet identified or arrested a suspect in Burford’s death, which they are investigating as a homicide. Detectives declined to say more about the case to avoid jeopardizing the investigation.

Burford earned money by washing the windows of businesses, including hers, Romness said. He had been living in a boarding home at Seventh and Comal streets in East Austin, and he was getting to the top of Section 8 housing waiting lists, friends said.

While many Challenger articles tackle community issues, Romness said that Burford primarily wrote fiction, often about characters who were out fishing.

“He was a great contributor to our writer pool,” Romness said.

Robert Bentley, who met Burford as a volunteer for the food bank run by Westover Hills Church of Christ in West Austin, said he thinks Burford’s work at the Challenger gave him the self-confidence he needed to seek out permanent housing.

“I think maybe the most wonderful thing about his writing is it brought him into contact with people who valued his life,” Bentley said. “I think he started to see that and take actions and make choices that valued himself.”

Bentley had known Burford for about five years. Burford started coming to the church because it was right in front of a Capital Metro bus stop, Bentley said.

Burford provided insight into the best ways the food bank, which typically caters to low-income people with homes, could also help the homeless community, Bentley said. For example, those who are homeless need canned food with pop-tops, instead of ones requiring can-openers, and they need food that is ready to eat and doesn’t require preparation.

Burford also taught the food bank’s volunteers that purchasing bus passes for homeless individuals can be a huge help, Bentley said.

Burford also would often use the church to make copies of pamphlets and documents about homeless services in Central Texas to give to other folks he knew who lived on the streets, Bentley said.

“I think, more than most homeless folks, he was a little bit more outgoing and a little more willing to share information about what his needs were and what other homeless needs were,” Bentley said. “He was really self-aware and really candid about what his challenges were.”

He said he felt honored to see Burford change his life.

“He achieved an astonishing amount of personal growth in the last few years of his life, and I’m really glad he got to experience that. He got to be around people who were really vocal about how they cared about him at the church and the Challenger,” Bentley said.

Of course, that made the news of Burford’s killing even more shocking, Bentley said.

“After all the changes he’d made in his life — he was living in a home, living independently,” he said. “It was really surprising to have that end now, as opposed to when he was facing a lot of risks on the streets.”

For now, Bentley said he’s focused on Burford’s upcoming memorial, but he is concerned about the homicide case as well.

“I also know that cases like this are traditionally not the kind of cases that get a lot of police resources thrown at them,” Bentley said. “Knowing that has kind of tempered my expectations a little bit.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Florida student makes racist prom proposal 
Florida student makes racist prom proposal 

There are many inventive ways to ask someone to the prom, but a Florida teenager is being criticized after he used a racist sign to invite his girlfriend. The sign created by Noah Crowley, 18, of Sarasota, read “If I was black, I’d be picking cotton, but I’m white, so I’m picking u 4 prom,” the Herald-Tribune of Sarasota...
Study: Even mild head injuries increase risk of Parkinson's disease
Study: Even mild head injuries increase risk of Parkinson's disease

Even mild head injuries dramatically increase an individual's risk of developing Parkinson's disease, according to a new large-scale study on veterans. The new research, published this month in the academic journal Neurology, looked at data collected from 325,870 former members of the U.S. military ranging from 31 to 65 years of age. Researchers...
The sour truth about artificial sweeteners
The sour truth about artificial sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners are used by many people trying to lose weight. They’re often touted as ‘healthy’ by food and beverage companies – but guess again. Recent research links these chemical sugar substitutes to weight gain, heart disease and diabetes. So, how can something with zero calories lead to obesity and disease? “It...
Man arrested after SWAT standoff at La Quinta Inn; no weapon found, police say
Man arrested after SWAT standoff at La Quinta Inn; no weapon found, police say

8:05 a.m. update: Austin police have arrested a man who had threatened to shoot anyone who approached him in a North Austin hotel bathroom. SWAT officers used pepper spray to force the man to surrender, police said. A police spokesman said officers did not find a weapon at the scene. Police said the man entered the La Quinta Inn and Suites near the...
FORECAST: Sunny, hot Tuesday with high of 87; chance of rain Wednesday
FORECAST: Sunny, hot Tuesday with high of 87; chance of rain Wednesday

Tuesday forecast for Austin: Break out the shades because an unseasonably warm sunny day is in store for us, the National Weather Service says, as Central Texas temperatures are expected to reach the upper 80s. In Austin, temperatures will approach 87 degrees with south-southeast winds from the Gulf arriving in the afternoon, forecasters say. The balmy...
More Stories