Richards Street eyesore spotlighted after homeless murders

Richards Street eyesore spotlighted after homeless murders

Posted:
The area has been described as an eyesore. The area has been described as an eyesore.
Tony Saffles, who owns Neon Service next to the property, said the area is a problem. Tony Saffles, who owns Neon Service next to the property, said the area is a problem.
More trash in the Richards Street area. More trash in the Richards Street area.

By JOSH AULT
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - After the bodies of three homeless people were found in a wooded area near downtown Knoxville, many residents are wondering what is being done to clean up the area.

The victims were all found near Richards Street, just north of downtown Knoxville near Interstate 75.

One man's body was found in a tent after a disturbance call. Later, two more bodies turned up. One had been covered by debris, and the other was in a crawl space.

Three people face murder charges in connection with the first body.

Despite the arrests, the issues with this location remain.

The 800 block of Richards Street, where the bodies of three homeless people were found, has been described as an eyesore.

There are several buildings that have been abandoned, and trash covers most of the area.

Tony Saffles, who owns Neon Service next to the property, says this area is a problem.

"It wasn't originally, but it has become now," said Saffles. "It's getting worse and worse."

Saffles says the main problem is the homeless who frequent the area. His business has been broken into six times in the past seven years.

City officials say before they clean up an area they have to receive a complaint, and since this is such a isolated area, they do not get many complaints.

Jesse Mayshark, a city spokesman, says Philip Metals, also known as PSC Metals, owns the property. The company shut down operations at the property several years ago.

Mayshark said the Knoxville Public Works Department has issued citations against the company in 2007 and 2011 for being an eyesore. Both of those citations were resolved.

In January of 2012, company officials requested permission for demolition, but as of yet have not taken the building down.

People who live in the area just hope it gets cleaned up. 

"A development would be great," said Saffles, "Police patrol would help the situation with the homeless that are here, get the homeless help."

City officials say currently there are no citations pending with the current property owners.

6 News reached out to Philip Metals officials to find out if they plan to do anything with the property.

Our phone calls were not returned.

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