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Body Found at Seattle’s Mercer Street Encampment

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On Tuesday night, a dead body was found in a homeless encampment in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood.

By Wednesday afternoon, Seattle Police detectives arrived back at the Mercer Street scene to search from tent to tent for any new information related to the gruesome discovery.

Paris Alcantare, who lives in the Mercer Street encampment, says he “saw a foot hanging out” near the bushes on Tuesday and found a body “wrapped in a blanket and a tarp.”

Thinking it may have been someone he knew, Alcantare unwrapped the blanket and discovered the body of someone he didn’t recognize.

Authorities have identified the body as a 50–60-year-old woman, but have not released her name. Nor, so far, have they provided information regarding the circumstances surrounding her death, or how she ended up in the encampment.

Alcantare thinks the woman was brought to the encampment and left in the bushes by someone. “Somebody would bring a body here and lay it out in front,” he tells me.

The Mercer Street homeless encampment is located directly across the street from Google’s South Lake Union campus at a busy intersection near the highway’s on- and off-ramps. 

The encampment has been on Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) property for at least two years and has gone through several phases.

I visited the encampment last summer when it was full of tents. Now, it’s unclear how many people still live here.

When Alcantare points out the exact spot he found the body, he quickly adds that he doesn’t “want to talk about it anymore.”

But he did continue the conversation with police, hoping to help investigators figure out how this disturbing situation came about.

Jonathan Choe

Journalist and Senior Fellow, Center on Wealth and Poverty
Jonathan Choe is a journalist and Senior Fellow with Discovery Institute's Center on Wealth and Poverty, covering homelessness issues for its Fix Homelessness initiative. Prior to joining Discovery, Choe spent several years as one of the lead reporters at KOMO-TV, consistently the top rated television station in Seattle. His in depth stories on crime and deep dive investigations into the homeless crisis led to measurable results in the community, including changes in public policy. Choe has more than two decades of experience in television news behind the scenes and in front of the camera for ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, and Tribune. He has also been nominated and honored with multiple industry awards including an Emmy. Choe spent several years teaching classes on emerging media and entrepreneurship to under privileged youth in inner city Chicago. As an independent journalist, Choe also contributes regularly to the Mill Creek View and Lynnwood Times and has reported on exclusive stories in the past year for Daily Wire and The Postmillennial.