There were tents, one with a nice mattress, a patio table and umbrella, a lawn mower to keep down weeds, even pots and pans and a Gideon Bible.
The two homeless men charged with first-degree manslaughter of a man hit by a train Thursday in north Lexington lived in an elaborate camp in woods between Paris Pike and a railroad track, not far from where Stephen “Zeke” Mazyck's body was found.
“They've got a Taj Mahal back there,” said Cotton Conley, who runs a nearby garage and visited the camp Friday.
It is not clear how Steven D. Dykes, 44, and Charles M. Atkins, 49, crossed paths with Mazyck.
Wendy Muchow, who lives in an apartment on nearby Rogers Road, said Mazyck, her boyfriend of more than 20 years, didn't return home after he left Wednesday night to grab a beer with a friend at the Curb Bar on Paris Pike.
Mazyck, 53, was struck about 11:15 a.m. Thursday by an R.J. Corman train. The engineer told Lexington police the man was already dead before the train hit him.
The preliminary cause of death was blunt force trauma, according to the Fayette County Coroner's Office.
Muchow said a friend told her that Mazyck had been attacked. But when she went to the area near the railroad tracks Thursday morning, before police found the body, she couldn't find Mazyck. He didn't answer when she yelled his name.
“I loved him so much, and we were going to stay together until we got old,” she said.
Muchow said she doesn't know the two men who were arrested and doesn't know why Mazyck would go to the homeless camp where Atkins and Dykes had lived for perhaps two years.
The camp was hidden from both the road and the tracks by trees and thick honeysuckle bushes.
But bushes and small trees in the camp had been cut. There were strips of carpet on the ground, Christmas garlands and a plastic reindeer, a file cabinet, a fire pit, a pan for washing dishes and an American flag afghan.
The two were known by some of the nearby business owners.
Donnie Whitt, who owns the Curb Bar, said he didn't like Atkins and Dykes, whom he had thrown out of his bar.
“They would stay messed up all the time, stay drunk,” he said.
He described Mazyck as someone who wouldn't hurt a fly.
“I think if you hit him, he would just curl up in a ball,” he said.
Court records say Atkins and Dykes assaulted Mazyck, then moved his body to the railroad tracks.
On Friday, both men were arraigned in Fayette District Court. They pleaded not guilty to charges of manslaughter and tampering with physical evidence. They will be appointed public defenders and are expected to appear in court Thursday morning for a preliminary hearing.
According to court records, the two have had dozens of public intoxication charges over the last five years. They pleaded guilty to most of those charges and served time in jail or paid fines.
Dykes was charged with third-degree assault of a corrections officer and terroristic threatening in October, according to court records. He spit on and threatened a corrections officer who was taking him to a housing unit after Dykes had been charged with alcohol intoxication and disorderly conduct.
Investigators did not say why the men allegedly assaulted Mazyck.
That's something Muchow couldn't figure out either, because he's “a wonderful man.”
Mazyck, who was divorced, had few blood relatives in Lexington. Muchow said he made money doing odd jobs for friends when he could.
Muchow says she's lost a man who became religious and who was trying to become a better person after completing the Hope Recovery Program in November 2007. He was required to complete the program after he was placed on probation for second-degree assault.
Muchow met Mazyck at a friend's house decades ago, she said. They dated for a while, then he moved in with her. That was about 23 years ago.
Muchow's daughter, Angela, 30, said Mazyck was like a father to her and a grandfather to her three young children. He loved to drink, Angela Muchow said. But he always returned home, cooking and cleaning for Wendy Muchow.
“I just don't understand it,” Angela Muchow said. “I don't see how anybody could do anybody like that.”