Murder of homeless man ‘will be the travesty that haunts us’

Murder of homeless man ‘will be the travesty that haunts us’
This homeless camp off Lexington Road in Louisville is now a murder scene. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Tucked away under the CSX railroad bridge near Lexington Road is a homeless camp that’s now the center of a grisly murder investigation.

Witnesses said a tent was set on fire at the camp on Saturday with flames rising between 15 and 20 feet high. The flames were out before emergency crews were alerted.

Arson investigators later found the badly burned body of a man in the remnants of the fire.

"It’s a chilling thought,” Maria Price, of the St. John Center for Homeless Men, said. “It’s nauseating to think of someone being caught in flames and burning to death. It’s heart breaking.”

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Police say it was no accident. They believe Christopher Shuffett, 48, knew there was someone in the tent and that he intentionally set it on fire. He was allegedly heard threatening to kill someone before setting the fire.

Christopher James Shuffett, 48, is charged with murder and arson.
Christopher James Shuffett, 48, is charged with murder and arson. (Source: LMDC)

It’s believed both Shuffett and the victim were homeless.

“Clearly there’s more to do because someone died,” Price said.

The St. John Center for Homeless Men connects people with the services they need to get them off the streets and into permanent housing. Price said the victim frequented the shelter.

”There’s a grief, a sense of sadness that hangs over the shelter,” Price said. “There’s concern, and the men live with that concern and anxiety every day. And a horrible circumstance like this brings the awareness of how very, very vulnerable the men are every day and every night."

Price said affordable, safe housing should be viewed as a right -- one that may have prevented Saturday’s fire.

"That will be the travesty that haunts us until we really fully invest in the support services and the housing that we need in this community and across the country,” Price said.

Shuffett is charged with murder and arson. He will be arraigned in court Tuesday morning.

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