By Thursday, news that Richard “Channon” Myers had been murdered on the mean streets of Modesto had swept through the local homeless community. Known for his long “trains” of scavenged treasures — some would say “junk” — Channon was beloved among the homeless for his good nature.
“Channon was a beautiful person,” said Kim, a woman who frequents Graceada and Enslen Parks, two places Channon often pulled in to rest and catch up on the news. “He was kind to everyone.”
“I was the one who taught him canning fifteen years ago,” said his longtime friend Carl Wolden, who is now sheltered.
“The first time we went out, we started at 5pm at a store on McHenry, where I always started. We looked in the dumpster and found 15 bags of marijuana.”
It may have been that auspicious start that led Channon to his decade-and-a-half routine of scouring dumpsters along Modesto’s McHenry Avenue and other well-travelled routes throughout town.
Wiry-strong from his daily habit of pulling other people’s trash, Channon was occasionally somber and thoughtful, but most often buoyant and good-humored.
According to sketchy reports, Channon was killed by a 24-year-old man who walked up and shot him and another homeless man. The other man survived. Channon did not.
The prevailing rumor among the homeless is that there had been an earlier confrontation during which Channon fought off an assault by the alleged assailant, a much younger man.
Wolden doesn’t doubt that 50-year-old Channon was capable of fending off an attack by someone half his age.
“Somebody might have tried to take his stuff,” said Wolden. “You don’t do that to a homeless person. Channon was very mellow, but he never backed down from anyone. I found that out when I first met him over fifteen years ago. We had a little disagreement and we both decided we were better off as friends than enemies.”
Most of the time, Channon’s hauls were transported on a long chain of most anything with wheels. His trains were made up of little red wagons, wheel chairs, baby strollers, dogcarts, and any other found object that might roll over pitted streets and bumpy sidewalks. Sometimes the load was so heavy and cumbersome that he had to tie a rope to the front end and pull the pile while bent over and tugging backwards.
Even when he found safe resting places at Beard Brook Village and the Modesto Outdoor Emergency Shelter (MOES) before they were closed, Channon made his daily rounds, though both places added another couple of miles to his route.
When people commented on the size of an especially big load, Channon would often respond, “Yeah, I’m runnin’ a little heavy today.”
He seldom kept anything very long, trading or giving away most of his treasures. One of his all-time favorite finds was an army surplus cot he acquired while camping at MOES. It was almost new and became a welcome bed.
Carl Wolden is convinced that rumors about Channon giving an unprovoked assailant a beating that brought on a senseless killing are true.
“I knew him,” he said, “he wouldn’t back down from anyone. He stood up for all homeless people who get taken advantage of. He went out like a rock star.”