Homeless alert issued amid `Stomper' fears
By Michele McPhee
Wednesday, August 17, 2005 - Updated: 02:26 AM EST
Outreach workers raced to coax homeless people to shelter yesterday amid growing fears that the vicious derelict known as ``The Stomper'' would strike again following his release from prison two weeks ago.
Meanwhile, the medical examiner's office is trying to determine what killed a homeless man whose body was found over the weekend outside St. Anthony's Shrine in downtown Boston.
``We have spent the entire day trying to get people in and off the streets,'' said one advocate, who asked not to be identified. ``All the outreach workers are on high alert now that (The Stomper) is out. We are worried about whatever violence is going on out there.''
The Stomper, as he is called by other homeless men at his haunts on the benches outside the Cambridge Street unemployment office in Government Center and on Arch Street in Downtown Crossing, has a long criminal history of beating and kicking his brethren during drunken rampages. Advocates said he has struck again in the weeks since he was set loose.
``We've had complaints that he has attacked people these last two weeks,'' the advocate said.
The Stomper's real name is Dennis Connolly. The 50-year-old vagrant was released from jail July 29, the same day he pleaded guilty to charges he kicked a fellow homeless man, Kenneth Kane, repeatedly in the head in an alley near the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.
Kane later died of his injuries. Connolly's sentence in Kane's assault was nine months' time served while awaiting trial in the case. The charges were never upgraded to homicide because an M.E. could not conclusively determine that Kane in fact died from Connolly's Oct. 22, 2004, thrashing.
Steven Neiber, the homeless man pronounced dead at New England Medical Center on Saturday morning, had been listed on a police report as a witness to Kane's beating. Police have not linked Neiber's death to Connolly.
Connolly has been linked to several stomping crimes. In February, prosecutors dismissed murder charges against him in connection with yet another stomping death – that of homeless man Owen Azzara, 47.
Azzara's brutalized body was found last August a few feet from the front door to WHDH-TV (Ch. 7) studios on Bulfinch Place. The case against Connolly fell apart after the key witness was deemed unreliable because he was seldom sober enough to testify, Suffolk County DA spokesman David Procopio said. Neiber did not testify in the Kane case because Connolly pleaded guilty to assault and battery charges before it went to trial.
If it bleeds, it leads.