Neighbors heartbroken after homeless man found beaten to death in Grant Park

ATLANTA — Neighbors say they are heartbroken after someone beat a well-known homeless man to death behind a gas station in southeast Atlanta.

Police found 52-year-old Billy Bethune dead on Boulevard Street in Grant Park around 9 a.m. Friday behind a gas station. Investigators believe he died from blunt force trauma to the head. A worker found his body where he was known to sleep.

Channel 2's Christian Jennings was in Grant Park, where police have offered a $2,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

Neighbors told Jennings that both customers and workers at the gas station loved Bethune, who they said held the door open for everyone, did favors for people and always had a smile.

Neighbors said he lived behind the Chevron gas station off of Boulevard, but the neighborhood was his home.

"He was just the eyes and ears of this place," a neighbor said. "He loved being here and he always helped us. He washed cars. We took care of him, he took care of us."

Neighbor Denyne Williams said she viewed Bethune as family.

"I'm glad we know where he's at, and he's not just under a bridge somewhere," Williams said through tears. "As far as being hit in the head, I hope that one hit was what put him out and he didn't know anything different from that point on."

Jim Yarbrough lives in the Grant Park neighborhood that backs up the Chevron. He said for years, neighbors have had issues with some vacant land that surrounds the gas station. He hopes something good can come out of Bethune's death.

"I just hope something good comes out of this loss," Yarbrough said.


Kelly Jackson said she doesn't feel comfortable even walking with her kids in that part of the neighborhood. She hopes one day, that can change.

"We've had people living in these woods," Jackson said. "There's been people back here having fights, obviously drunk or drugged."

Jackson said  she'd love for more lights to be installed in the area.

Police are asking anyone who knows anything about the attack to call Crime Stoppers.