A close friend discovered Jerry D. Loflin deceased inside his apartment Thursday morning, and a few hours later police confirmed that he had been murdered.
The 65-year-old resident of the Joplin Housing Authority’s Bartlett Hills complex on the southwest side of the city was well-liked by neighbors.
“He was a real nice man, a generous man,” Frank Norris said. “Always friendly.”
Norris, who lives in a four-plex next door to the one where Loflin lived at 1832 W. 24th St., said the slain man was always quick to offer his assistance even though he generally needed a walker, wheelchair or scooter to get around himself.
Norris said Loflin often had a kind word to offer and liked keeping neighbors apprised about how his closest friend was recuperating from a recent setback to his health. He expressed shock at the news Thursday of Loflin’s own violent end.
Lt. Brian Lewis of the Joplin Police Department said the victim’s body was discovered shortly before 10 a.m. By 2 p.m., investigators had termed the death a homicide. An autopsy was scheduled to be performed this morning at Frontier Forensics in Kansas City, Kan.
Lewis declined to discuss the cause of death pending autopsy results. He also declined to discuss the location of the body within the apartment.
There were no signs of forced entry visible from the street outside. The door to the victim’s home appeared to be intact, and there were no broken windows.
The Tri-State Major Case Squad was activated to assist Joplin police in the case. Investigators were canvassing the neighborhood Thursday afternoon, seeking information that might lead to a suspect.
One detective’s pursuit of clues suggests that investigators believe it’s possible that Loflin was attacked several hours before the discovery of his murder.
Neighbors said Loflin lived alone in the apartment. Police regard the Housing Authority complex as a relatively safe place to live.
“There are very few calls we respond to out there,” Lewis said.
THE SLAYING of a 65-year-old resident of the Housing Authority of Joplin is the first murder in Joplin in 2014.