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Edward Lee Murphy, a man who lived under the Interstate 95 bridge for years, died last week from what Roanoke Rapids police Chief Chuck Hasty described as an untreated medical condition.

Edward Murphy

Hasty said he received word Friday the 55-year-old Murphy died.

While Murphy never accepted help with housing, the community is rallying to raise funds for his cremation expenses.

Hasty said the police department is working with Hockaday Funeral and Cremation Service in Roanoke Rapids to make arrangements for Murphy’s cremation.

Anyone willing to help is encouraged to make a donation by check or money order made payable to Hockaday.

Some funds have already been raised, Hasty said, but more are needed.

Jodie Barrett, who will have a Monday evening service at the Community Prayer Tree at her home at Canal Walk, said an offering will be taken at this service for Murphy.

This evening’s service, from 7 to 8, is being held in conjunction with First Christian Church.

In a Facebook post, Barrett noted, “Today we (many around our community and the globe) are praying for the homeless. When I wrote Jingle and Joy, Praying Beneath the Tree, I immediately thought of a gentleman that lives beneath an interstate overpass. I've watched him for years, many in our community have extended help and prayer.”

Wrote Barrett in the post: “Recently Mr. Murphy became very ill and over the weekend he passed away. His family was located and they are in need of assistance to help with cremation services. Those services are being graciously offered at cost. Many in our community are already joining to help. As we gather around our community prayer tree today we will offer praise for a prayer answered and we will respond as a family.”

Barrett said a collection tonight at the tree will be used to help with this need.

Hasty said the community looked out for Murphy and while he never accepted offers for shelter, he did receive food and blankets. “He had not contacted his family in several years. We have several more homeless people we check on,” he said. “Being homeless is not a crime. They’re part of our community. We’re charged with looking out for their well-being.”

Donations in the form of checks and money orders made payable to Hockaday will be accepted at the police department.