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Homeless man, murder victim, remembered by family, friends

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Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

Editor’s note: The identity of a man police say was beaten to death on May 4 in Roswell was initially unknown. Authorities were later able to identify him as Todd Porter Evans, a 52-year-old homeless man. Two men have been charged with second-degree murder in connection with the case. Local feature writer Curtis Michaels recently spoke with Evans’ friends and family.

Todd Evans moved to Roswell to reunite with his sister, Jennie. As children she had been his teacher, and his protector in an abusive home.

“I taught him how to tie his shoes,” she said. “Because I’m left-handed he tied them backwards.”

She also taught her baby brother how to swim.

“He jumped in the deep end and I had to jump in to get him to safety,” she said. “When we got out of the pool he told me ‘I knew you’d save me.’”

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Todd’s child-like demeanor made it easy for him to make friends.

“The first day he came to the shelter it was April 20,” Tim Riley said. “He liked to carve out walking sticks. When he’d finish one he might sell it or he might give it away. He always helped people when they needed it.”

His friend Buddy Joe appreciated his gentleness. “Todd was a different type of character,” he said. “He tried to befriend everybody. He didn’t hold a grudge. If he got mad at you, by the next day he was your friend again.”

Todd graduated in 1984 from Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch where, he told his sister, he felt safe for the first time. He then graduated from Gary Job Corps in San Marcos, Texas with a certificate in welding and metal testing.

He has two sons, Todd James Evans and Billy Jack Evans of Houston. Billy Jack has a five-month-old daughter, Tatum, who never got to meet her grandpa.

He left behind five older siblings, Mike Evans of Sarasota, Florida; Mark Evans of Dallas, Texas; Debbie Ellen Evans and Debbie Dawn Evans of Fort Worth, Texas and Jennie Evans of Roswell, NM.

In 1991 he was injured on the job. Ensuing back surgeries left him with permanent nerve damage, and he spent the rest of his life disabled. He then began life as a house-husband raising four step-children, Mark, Eric, Crystal and April.

Jennie speaks of her brother with pride.

“He loved games, loved music, loved people,” she said. “Todd was accomplished in playing the flute. He was a member of the renaissance festival and made leather products for it. He did a picture of John Wayne on leather, and he had been offered $10,000 for it. He was excellent at it. Tandy Leathers endorsed him for his talent.”

As adults Todd and Jennie didn’t always live near each other, but they remained close and enjoyed the times they could be together.

“I was so happy to see him here and to have my brother with me,” Jennie said.

Todd came to Roswell in April. His previous experience with shelters didn’t bring him any comfort.

“When I sent him here,” Jennie remembered, “he said, ‘I’m not going to any shelter.’ because he had lived in shelters in Houston and they’re horrible. This shelter is so much nicer.”

They looked forward to a future of living close to each other in Roswell.

“We finally had time together,” Jennie said. “He came here for me. We’d been separated.”

Two days before he was murdered, Todd had to go to the emergency room. When he arrived at his sister’s place she said he looked terrible. “He’d been in the hospital with low potassium,” she said.

Jennie fed him and let him sleep on her couch. Unfortunately he couldn’t stay sober for long. He knew he couldn’t stay at the shelter after he’d been drinking.

He told his sister he was going to get his jacket from the shelter and then he would find a safe place to sleep.

As a child, his sister’s love gave Todd hope. His life was a precarious balance between hope and tragedy. Hope brought him to Roswell. Tragedy wasn’t far behind.

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