Public Safety

Greene Square death investigation leads to murder charge

Stepfather of man killed hopes death will lead to safety improvements

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CEDAR RAPIDS — An arrest made Monday in the homicide investigation of a man found unconscious last month in downtown’s Greene Square brings little relief but should be the impetus for safety improvements at the park and adjacent library, the man’s stepfather said.

“I am glad they made the arrest, but it doesn’t give me much peace at all,” Dale Beeks, stepfather of Scott Dexter, 38, said in an interview. “It was such a senseless act. It makes me sad.”

Troy Lee Wilson, 47, was taken into custody without incident about 2 p.m. Monday on a second-degree murder charge, police said. He is scheduled to formally be charged Tuesday morning in Linn County District Court.

Police said they found Dexter, of Cedar Rapids, unconscious and injured in the park about 4 p.m. June 5. He was taken to the hospital and died of the injuries June 9.

Police have released few details and declined Monday to answer questions or release the arrest report.

Beeks, of Mount Vernon, told The Gazette that based on his conversations with police and a witness, a woman had been making accusations against Dexter, who tried to defend himself. The situation escalated into an angry crowd “yelling and shouting.” Eventually he said he his stepson was “hit once from a guy built like Mike Tyson.”

Dexter was brain dead when he was taken from the park, he said.

Greene Square at times is a magnet for people with mental health and substance abuse issues due to its proximity to social services, the library and other amenities, officials have said.

This year has seen an increase in rowdy behavior and police calls there. Police logged seven calls for service since Friday.

The park remains attractive to families who bring children to play in the splash pad, young and old play Pokemon Go and downtown professionals drop by for a break. The park also hosts popular functions such as the farmers market and group yoga.

But Beeks fears the same deadly situation could happen again, questioning the safety of the park and library.

They shouldn’t be the default “hangout” for transients dealing with various issues, a group in which he said he would have included his stepson.

Beeks acknowledged Dexter, who donated organs to four recipients, had dealt with mental health, substance and alcohol problems, didn’t have stable housing and had been in and out of trouble with the law, though had been regularly employed as a professional cook.

“We tried to get him to seek help, but he wouldn’t follow through,” Beeks said. “He didn’t always choose healthy living environments ... He was a well-liked person, but he’d rather give stuff away to people than pay his own rent. It didn’t quite makes sense.”

While city officials have defended the overall safety of the park, they are considering some changes. Beeks credited authorities with taking “a step in the right direction,” including increasing foot patrols, discussing banning alcohol and smoking and adding security cameras. He said he hopes they also add lighting.

Beeks said he was invited to speak to a small working group of leaders from the city, police, library, a social service provider and the downtown business community studying issues in Greene Square. He said he is drafting a letter to the City Council.

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Police continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding the June 5 incident and consider it an ongoing investigation, according to a news release.

Those with additional information about the incident can call the Cedar Rapids Police Department at (319) 286-5411 or Linn County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-272-7463.

l Comments: (319) 398-8310; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

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