Two homeless men who have admitted to fatally beating a Lexington man last month were both longtime alcoholics who had fallen through the cracks of a broken social safety net, a homeless shelter manager said.
Steven D. Dykes, 44, and Charles M. Atkins, 49, have been in and out — in Dykes' case, mostly out — of the Catholic Action Center for the past decade.
"We've known them forever," center director Ginny Ramsey said.
Ramsey said Dykes, nicknamed Hillbilly, went to the center three weeks before the slaying of Stephen Mazyck, of Lexington, on Aug. 7.
Dykes, who has long, shaggy hair, a thick beard and a grizzled face, asked for help to see a doctor.
"He said he was absolutely losing it," Ramsey recalled.
She added, "The sadness to me is that Hillbilly was seeing his destruction."
A Fayette grand jury indicted Dykes and Atkins on Tuesday on charges of first-degree manslaughter and tampering with evidence.
According to a search warrant affidavit, the men have admitted to police that they fatally beat Mazcyck, 53. Dykes has shown police where it happened, and he led them to the shopping cart he and Atkins used to drag Mazcyck to railroad tracks near Paris Pike, according to the affidavit.
An RJ Corman train struck Mazcyck's body, and the operator then alerted police. Investigators determined that Mazcyck was dead before he was hit by the train.
Both Dykes and Atkins are being held in the Fayette County Detention Center on $250,000 bond. They are scheduled to be arraigned Thursday in Fayette Circuit Court.
Dykes' and Atkins' stories are not uncommon among the chronically homeless, Ramsey said.
Dykes, a Tates Creek High School graduate, is estranged from his family, she said. He lived at the center's South Broadway boardinghouse, Divine Providence Way, when it opened in 2003.
For a time he was doing better. In 2002, the Herald-Leader wrote a story about him and other Lexington homeless who were being paid to winterize homes.
He was among a group of homeless that traveled to Frankfort to lobby for changes in a bill to make it tougher to get identification cards.
But Ramsey said she was never able to persuade Dykes to go into treatment for alcoholism. Because of that, he was not allowed to stay at Divine Providence Way anymore, she said.
Police had been called on him over the years, but Ramsey said he was not violent.
"I would not call Hillbilly violent," Ramsey said. "He did more violence to himself than anything. But when he was drunk, he could do anything."
Court records show that Dykes assaulted a jail officer last fall.
Atkins, who goes by Mike, is struggling with health issues related to alcoholism, Ramsey said.
Ramsey said Atkins, who was once married and is originally from Georgetown, went through a two-year stretch where he had construction jobs and even owned a truck. But he hit the bottle again, and for the last 15 months had lived with Dykes on the streets.
Mazyck had also been to the center in the past, but Ramsey said she did not know him as well. She said it's a tragedy that he is dead.
Dykes and Atkins were certainly victims of their poor choices, Ramsey said. But they were also victims of a frayed social safety net that allows the weakest in society to deteriorate.
"They were two men who were definitely lost souls on our streets," she said.