Songs, tears at vigil for Fayetteville man found dead

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Friends and family gathered at the spot a paralyzed man was found dead Tuesday.

Bertha Byrd said her son's body, discovered Tuesday, was dumped like an animal in the woods.

"I wouldn't do a dog like that," she sobbed.

"Like he was trash or something," added LaTonya Probst, the victim's sister. "He wasn't no trash."

Investigators are still mulling over a cause and possible motive for the death of Hanee Heron Byrd and the dumping of his body. The 37-year-old Byrd was paralyzed from a car accident more than two decades ago, and his body was discovered earlier this week in the wood line along Shaw Mill Road and Meharry Drive.


In 911 recordings, it's revealed that a city bus driver discovered Byrd's body Tuesday afternoon. The call came in about 1:30 p.m., and investigators said the body was about 60 feet into the wood line, behind a FAST bus stop on Meharry Drive.

"One of my drivers just reported a dead body behind our bus stop," the caller told a dispatcher.

"You said a dead body behind the bus stop?" asked the dispatcher.

"Yes Ma'am," replied the caller.

Byrd's family members said he was last seen around his Hawthorne Road home Saturday evening. He'd spent the night enjoying friends and family in the home he shared with his mother, but his sister said he got into a car with 23-year-old Damien Boyd and was never seen again.

On Tuesday night, Boyd, whom the family described as a house guest and friend, was named a person of interest in the case.

"Right now Damien Boyd is just wanted for questioning," said Detective Jamaal Littlejohn. "He was last one seen with Mr. Byrd and we're just trying to find him."

Witnesses said Byrd and Boyd left Hawthorne Road in a black 2012 Ford Focus.

"When Monday came, I'm like 'It's something wrong, like something's wrong," Probst said. "His phone's going straight to voicemail. He not picking up. Nothing. The boy he left with, Damien, his phone going to voicemail. Like it's more to the story."

Friends and family lit candles and released balloons in memory of Byrd on Wednesday night.

In the shivering cold, they stood for a man who couldn't walk, a friend they say who gave away everything, but it wasn't enough. They prayed for strength and answers.

"I mean, we are God-fearing people," said Byrd's brother Albert Byrd Jr. "My little brother all he ever tried to do was help people. He did things for people not for pay but because he had a big heart."

The vigil was held in the wooded area on Meharry Drive in Fayetteville where police found his body.

Several dozen friends and family were at the vigil calling for strength, peace, and justice. A few sang songs, most stood around holding candles, reflecting on their memories. Many cried.

Friends say because Byrd used a wheelchair, he often depended on friends to help him get around. They said it was a familiar scene to see several friends pick him up out of his wheelchair, take him over to a vehicle, and put him inside.

Family members recalled he was always giving to others, sometimes his shoes, even the shirt off his back, if he was asked.

For the past week, they say Byrd let Boyd, a childhood friend, stay with him. The two were last seen together Saturday night in a car. Now police want to talk with Boyd, but he has disappeared.

Friends say Byrd's funeral plans are pending.

Police say an autopsy is set for Thursday morning.

"He didn't deserve nothing like this and I hope they catch the person that did this because I want justice for my brother and I won't stop until I get justice for my brother," Probst sobbed. "He didn't deserve to be killed."

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