Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Public safety

Homeless man in critical condition after beating by teens, police say

NEW PORT RICHEY — Officers thought Franklin Randolph was dead when they found him.

He lay on a foldout couch just inside the woods near Kentucky Avenue and Congress Street. Flies and other insects swarmed his bloody and broken body, covered in dirt, feces and urine. An ambulance rushed him to Morton Plant North Bay Hospital where he was sedated and hooked up to a respirator.

Randolph, 54, told police that three teens came to his camp Tuesday afternoon and savagely beat him. They kicked and punched him and spit on him. One grabbed a stick "large enough to swing like a baseball bat and struck him with it," a New Port Richey Police report states. Another threw a concrete block and a bottle of urine at him.

They left him with cuts and bruises all over and a broken nose, said Detective Greg Williams.

From a photopack of potential suspects, Randolph picked Anthony Frederick Phillips, 15, of 6746 Old Main St., and Brandon Charles Youngerman, 17, of 6422 Florida Ave., both Gulf High School students.

Williams said police deal with Youngerman on a "constant basis." While being arrested last year, he reportedly threatened to kill one officer's family and blow up the police station.

Phillips and Youngerman were arrested on aggravated battery charges. Williams said there isn't enough proof yet to make a third arrest.

Randolph was listed in critical condition Friday afternoon at the hospital. He may die from his injuries, the report states.

• • •

The beige couch where Randolph was found sits under a wide shade tree about seven paces from Kentucky Avenue. Beer bottles and scraps of trash mix with dead leaves on the ground. An opening in the vegetation puts it all in plain view from the windows of the apartment building next door, where Randolph's friend Nuarra Mee lives.

They met at a bus stop six years ago, back when he had a home and a significant other. He became homeless two weeks ago when he was thrown out of his apartment by a woman.

Mee said Randolph had a problem with the bottle. His record with the Sheriff's Office shows up as a string of alcohol-related arrests and a burglary.

Over the years, he was in and out of mental health clinics and halfway houses, said his sister, Debra. She had taken him in a couple times, "but you can't help somebody who doesn't want to be helped."

Most of the time, he could be found drunk. His drink of choice: FourLoko.

Mee said she would invite him over for meals and offer him showers just the same. She told him he could stay there with her, but he declined.

She was the first to find him Tuesday after the beating.

• • •

Tony Phillips said he hasn't talked to his son since the 15-year-old was arrested. Anthony was a mild-mannered teenager, his father said, but he had recently taken up with a rough crowd. Phillips doesn't think his son would have taken part if he'd seen friends beating a man. He hopes not.

"It's devastating," he said Friday. "You feel like you've failed somehow."

No one answered the door at Youngerman's home.

Contact Alex Orlando at [email protected] or (727) 869-6247.

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