EDWARDSVILLE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — 49-year-old murder victim Kurt Swan lived and died in the woods of Edwardsville. The homeless man made a home off the land about 100 yards behind the K-Mart building where, Saturday, he was found stabbed to death. Edwardsville Police Sgt. Hal Bond knows the area all too well. “We have a lot of problems down there with the drinking, drug use, fights, arguments, thefts from the shopping centers.”
Sgt. Bond says the police department’s hands are tied in cracking down on the homeless camps. “Big wooded areas we can’t patrol it. We don’t have the manpower to get back in there all the time to keep them out of there.” Edwardsville officials aren’t even sure who owns the undeveloped land. “Maybe the property owners can do something to secure the property better,” said Sgt. Bond.
Behind the Lowe’s Home Improvement Center in the West Side Mall, a locked gate was added in recent years to prevent cars from getting back into an area where homeless camps are known to exist. But the gate does absolutely nothing to prevent foot traffic and without that security, one of those entering the woods could be a threat to some of the most vulnerable members of society. “Well I fear for all these homeless people, you know. All of them, you know because they’re all in the same situation,” said Charles Perry.
Mr. Perry works at McKinney Clinic on Jackson Street in Wilkes-Barre which helps place homeless individuals into shelters. He fears what will happen if police carry out an all-out crackdown on homeless camps. “They should have something in place for these people when they do that. They should maybe get them into a shelter.”
Edwardsville police stress that they do not destroy homeless camps but they do make arrests if they catch someone causing trouble.