Grisly discovery affects quiet neighborhood

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 4, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Predell Ruffin’s yard is a small slice of land dotted with flowers and other green plants the 71-year-old cultivates. It is a peaceful, tree-lined setting, one of many in the quiet, manicured neighborhood at the end of Vermont Street.

That tranquility was disrupted Tuesday afternoon when Ruffin, while feeding stray cats, discovered a badly decomposed body in a ravine next to his property.


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Ruth Green, Ruffin’s neighbor, said she returned to Suffolk two years ago because she wanted to come home to the peace and quiet she remembered as a child 30 years ago in this city.

&uot;I left a huge city in Massachusetts to come back to this,&uot; Green remarked. &uot;I never thought something so gruesome could happen back here. This is a good neighborhood, with good people and we are all disturbed by what’s happened.&uot;

Green said Ruffin has been feeding the stray cats for three months or so, since the death of another neighbor. She said Ruffin regularly went to the same spot each day to feed the cats.

&uot;Yesterday, he was getting ready to feed them again and I was out in the yard and heard him yelling, and he was pacing up and down,&uot; said Green. &uot;I went over to the barricade after he told me what he’d seen and I couldn’t believe it. There was the body, all swollen and the skin on the head was all gone.&uot;

Green said she was so distraught Tuesday night that she was unable to sleep.

&uot;Reality bites!&uot; she exclaimed. &uot;You see this stuff on the news but you don’t think it will happen here. I ran in the house when I saw the body and started cleaning my kitchen range to get my mind on something else. It was so horrible! I don’t think I will ever get it out of my mind. I usually sleep well, but now….&uot;

Many questions must be answered about the man’s death, and as Green said, she will not be satisfied until she and the neighbors know who the man was and what caused his death.