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Man Beaten To Death On Near West Side

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Near West Side

Benjamine West, 59, was found naked and beaten to death on the Near West Side. (CBS)

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Updated: 1/4/11 – 10:19 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – Right in public view, off a playground at Fosco Park in the 1300 block of West Hastings Street, a man was found stripped naked and beaten to death. CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman reports.

Police aren’t saying much about the murder investigation. But people in the Near West Side Chicago housing complex where it happened are speaking up. They’re upset to have lost a friend.

“It hurts because I know him, and it hurts bad,” said Loretta Williams.

Williams, and other neighbors in the housing complex, lost a friend in a brutal way.

What one teenager saw on his way to school, as he rode past a play lot, was a man he knew, who was badly beaten.

Some people saw 59-year-old victim, Benjamine West, right from their front doors.

“I cried. Ben is a nice older guy,” said Latasha Williams.

They wonder why anyone would leave him naked the way they did.

“They thought he had money,” said Mary Morris. “They take money from older people. That’s what they had to think to take all his clothes off.”

That’s speculation police are not confirming.

They’re also not commenting on anything else we heard near the scene, like the rumor two teenagers are responsible for West’s death.

If chatter doesn’t lead to the suspects, maybe camera’s will. We saw them all over the complex.

“What they did to my friend Ben, that was wrong,” Williams said.

“We ain’t got a picture of him to show who he is or nothing, and that hurts,” said Morris.

A family representative says West was basically homeless.

But friends like Mary Morris tell us he worked odd jobs and would help anyone.

She sat with him just yesterday and they talked over coffee.

When asked what she would say to the people who did this, Morris said, “You need to get on the right track and make something better of your life.”

That’s assuming the suspects are teenagers.

An Illinois court report shows West had a drug possession record, but nothing indicating any violence.

People who knew him say he wouldn’t have hurt anyone, and didn’t deserve to die the way he did.

Police say no one is in custody at this time.

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