Homeless man, most arrested in Asheville, dies in jail

Tommy McMahan, 53, was found dead in his jail cell Monday morning. McMahan, who was homeless, recently topped a list of the 25 most arrested people in Asheville in 2007, compiled at the request of the Asheville Police Department. The Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the death, but asserted in a statement that McMahan was alone in the cell and the death is believed to be of natural causes.

In 2007, McMahan was arrested 29 times, receiving 28 intoxicated and disruptive charges, 16 charges of second-degree trespassing and a slew of other charges including simple assault, littering and possession of marijuana. On Sunday he refused to leave Mission Hospitals, where he’d been taken after falling ill at the AHOPE shelter on Friday, and was reportedly blocking the entrance to the emergency bay. He was then arrested for second-degree trespassing by the APD, who took him to the county jail. During a shift change Monday morning, he was found dead.

Amanda Thomas, assistant director of AHOPE, said that the shelter dealt with McMahan frequently and that he had been sick throughout the week.

“He was so ill-looking. He wasn’t intoxicated, he was obviously very sick — he thought he had the flu,” she told Xpress, adding that he’d had a history of lung and heart problems. “There’s been some really bad illnesses going around the shelters lately.”

Thomas described McMahan as well-liked and polite. “Tommy had a lot of friends in the community here,” she said. “He would always say ‘Thank you,’ even when we couldn’t let him in. He will be missed by the staff and everyone here.”

Sheriff’s Lt. Ross Dillingham called McMahan’s death “very unfortunate.” He said that detectives are investigating the case and an autopsy will be conduced, but that so far, he believes the death was of natural causes. According to the office’s statement, McMahan “had no physical altercation with any Detention staff and no physical contact with other inmates during this time period.”

Dillingham said that McMahan’s arrest record — and those of the others on the APD’s list — highlight a common problem. “What you have are homeless or indigent people hanging around downtown. They spend what little money they get — from begging, for example — on alcohol,” he said. “Then they get disruptive, [and] they’re taken to jail. They plead guilty, get time served taken off and they’re back out on the street.”

He said he’s seen those similar to McMahan come through “three to four times a week. Bottom line: It’s a problem, but that’s the way the system is set up.”

Dillingham added that Sheriff Van Duncan is taking steps to increase substance-abuse programs and rehabilitation efforts at the jail, including focusing on finding treatment, housing and work for offenders after they leave “so we won’t see so many of them coming back again and again.”

Val Westlund, director of inmate programs at the jail, said that the facility has just hired a manager to direct substance-abuse programs in an effort to help tackle the problem. Westlund said that decreasing mental-health facilities and support, especially for the indigent, often leave jails facing the brunt of a larger social problem

“We’re left facing the lack of education and health resources elsewhere — because they end up in jail,” Westlund said.

— David Forbes, staff writer


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30 thoughts on “Homeless man, most arrested in Asheville, dies in jail

  1. lokel

    The question here is did the Deputies at the jail figure that Mr McMahan was just back for his regular visit and neglect to check on him as a result … figuring that he would just sleep it off as always.

    Xpress … let’s see a story about the 25 Most Arrested people in Ashevegas … their crimes etc… that would be a good story to read.

    And find out why these repeat offenders are not incarcerated as felons after so many repeated misdemeanors.

  2. Agreed – I’d like to see that list of the 25 Most Arrested in Asheville.

    The homeless situation is an important, albeit difficult task that needs to be approached and dealt with in an empathetic but decisive nature. Unfortunately, the Spare Change for a Real Change program is just not enough. It is a facade of a solution stamped onto a much deeper and complex issue.
    Homeless in Asheville is common enough, and I am not ashamed to say I befriend many of these people. If you take the time to really talk to them, you’ll find most of them to be kind and caring individuals. For whatever their personal story may be, they have found a difficult lot in life. Many of them are folks who do work and provide for themselves in makeshift ways; but more often then not they are a bit touched in the head and thus are unable to sustain employment (in a town already desperate for fair and living wage jobs) but they are not dangerous enough to locked up.
    Many of the homeless I have spoken to tell me that the missions are often more dangerous than the streets. It is there that they get their nap-sacks ransacked and they lose the few possessions they have.
    There are no mental health institutions set up to help these people deal with society, or more appropriately help our society to deal with them in an understanding and appropriate manner.

  3. Rob Close

    last i checked, ‘spare change for real change’ still hadn’t even finished the form for letting people apply for the money they are collecting. then again, dwight butner said those forms would be ready last august/september. not enough? so far, it’s done nothing. someone correct me if i’m wrong.


    The story is a sneak preview of up coming attractions for middle class U.S. citizens. Massive foreclosures are occurring as we speak. The government backed mortgage companies, which are really owned off shore and predominantly by the Chinese, who I have heard also, were given title to the Smoky Mountains national park.

    The stock market is plummeting, as the debt based fiat currency finally implodes after years of malfeasance of printing presses from the private corporation known as the Federal Reserve running 24-7, printing thin air that hither to, was backed by the fact the worldwide medium of exchange for oil was the Dollar.
    160 OPEC nations have refused to accept the dollar in payment for oil.

    This homeless man was lucky he is in a better place; the living are soon to experience the complete economic destruction of the west. It couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch of imposters who claim to be Americans, when in fact they are mere slaves on the Federal Plantation located in the Land of Oz

    Meet me on the promenade deck in a half hour, Ill buy you a drink and we can listen to the band play “Misty” as we rearrange deck chairs on the Good Ship Looly Pop.
    Its sundown on the union, it sure was a good idea, if it were not for the imposters, who could not keep their government in check and keep a republic, instead of the mob rule, of a social democracy, which we now have, which exists in the belly of the fascist state we have become. The epitaph will read, “here lies the United States, the greatest debtor nation in all history, its moron citizens voted to raid its treasury and receive privileges rather than rights


    . Americas Top 20 Facts of (Law) Believe it or Not

    1. The IRS is not a U.S. Government Agency. It is an Agency of the IMF (Diversified metal Products v. IRS etal. CV-93-405E-EJE U.S.D.C.D.I., Public Law 94-564, Senate Report 94-1148 pg. 5967, Reorganization Plan No. 26, Public Law 102-391.)
    2. The IMF is an Agency of the UN. (Black’s Law Dictionary 6th Ed. Pg 816)
    3. The U.S. has not had a Treasury since 1921 (41 Stat. Ch. 214 pg. 654)
    4. There are no judicial courts in America and there has not been since 1789. Judges do not enforce Statutes and Codes. Executive Administrators enforce Statutes and codes (FRC. V. GE 281 US 464, Keller v. PE 261 US 428, 1 Stat. 138-178) http:; llcaselaw._lp_findlaw, comlscriptsl.getcae.pl?_court=us&_vol+261&invol;+248
    5. There have not been any Judges in America since 1789. There have just been Administrators. (FRC v. GE 281 US 464, Keller v PE 261 US 428 1Stat. 138-178)
    6. New York City is defined in the Federal Regulations as the United Nations. Rudolph Giuliani stated on C-Span that “New York City was the capitol of the world” and he was correct. (20 CFR chapter 111, subpart B 422.103 (b) (2) (2) (also check out Rev. 14 in reference to what happened on 9/11)
    7. You own no property, slaves can’t own property. Read the Deed to the property that you think is yours. You are listed as a Tenant. (Senate Document 43, 73rd Congress 1 st. Session)
    8. You cannot use the Constitution to defend yourself because you are not a party to it. (Padelford Fay & Co. v. The mayor and Alderman of the City of Savannah 14 Georgia 438, 520)
    9. The King of England financially backed both sides of the Revolutionary war. (Treaty at Versailles July 15, 1782, Treat of Peace 8 Stat 80)
    10. America is a British Colony. (THE UNITED STATES IS A CORPORATION, NOT A LAND MASS AND IT EXISTED BEFORE THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR AND THE BRITISH TROOPS DID NOT LEAVE UNTIL 1796). Republican v. Sweers 1 Dallas 43, Treaty of Commerce 8 Stat 116, The society for Propagating the Gospel & c. v. New Haven 8 Wheat 464, Treaty of Peace 8 Stat 80, IRS Publication 6209, Articles of Association October 20, 1774.
    11. Britain is owed by the Vatican. (Treaty of 1213).
    12. The Pope can abolish any law in the United States (elements of Ecclesiastical Law Vol. 1 53-54)
    13. We are slaves and own absolutely, nothing not even what we think are our children (Tillman v. Roberts 108 So. 62, Van Koten v. Van Koten 154 N.E. 146, Senate Document 43 & 73rd Congress 1 Session, Wynehammer v. People 13 N.R. REP 378, 481)
    14. “The People” does not include you and me. (Barron v. Mayor & City Council of Baltimore. 32 U.S. 243)
    15. It is not the duty of the police to protect you. Their job is to protect the Corporation and arrest code breakers. Sappv. Tallahasse, 348 So. 2nd 363, Reiff v. City of Philadelphia, 477 F. Supp. 1262, Lynch v. N.C. Dept. of Justice 376 S.E. 2nd. 247.
    16. Everything in the “United States” is for sale: roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, water, prisons, airports, etc. I wonder who bought Klamath Lake? Did anyone take the time to check? (?Executive Order 12803)
    17. We are Human capital (Executive Order 13037)
    18. The FCC, CIA, FBI, NASA and all of the other alphabet gangs were never a part of the United States government. Even though the “US government” held shares of stock in the various Agencies. (U.S. v. Strang, 254 US 491, Lewis v. U.S. 680 F. 2d, 1239) http://ca_selaw.Ip.findlaw.Co m/scripts/.qetcase.pi?Court=us&vol=254&invol=491.
    19. A 1040 form is for tribute paid to Britain. (IRS Publication 6209 IMF decoding manual)
    20. We are enemies of the State (Trading with the Enemy Act 1933 Act of 1917 & 1933) Trading with the Enemy Act 1933 Act of 1917 & 1933 (People declared the Enemy) Oct. 6, 1917, under the Trading with the Enemy Act, Section 2 subdivision ( c ) Chapter 106 – Enemy defined “other than citizens of the United States…” March 9, 1933, Chapter 106, Section 5, subdivision (b) of the Trading with the Enemy Act of Oct. 6, 1917 (40 Stat. L. 411) amended as follows: “…any person within the United States.” See H.R. 1491 Public No. 1.






  8. shadmarsh

    My half baked what? My half baked sentence? My half baked cassrole? My half baked beans?

  9. Gordon Smith

    I wondered when the safety would come off of Dr.ANCUS’ Caps Lock. Imagine being stuck on an airplane sitting next to this guy.

    Admin, can we get an open thread for berating and mocking ANCUS? I’m guessing it would be nearly as popular as anything with Chad Nesbitt’s name in it.

  10. shadmarsh

    I consulted the UN stormtroopers whom I keep quartered in my basement (along with a Company of Redcoats, for you know, just in case…) and they told me that there was no need to check your laws since in fact you do not exist. Trust me I have this on the highest authority (hint: She lives at Windsor, and is our true master [but between you and me I think she is infact one of those lizard people])…

  11. shadmarsh

    I would like to take a time out here to address this comment: “Xpress … let’s see a story about the 25 Most Arrested people in Ashevegas … their crimes etc… that would be a good story to read.”

    Just so you know, being arrested and being convicted of a crime are not the same thing.


    I am sorry I could never sit next to you on a plane, as I fly only first class.
    In addition, Gordon, I am probably on the no fly lists, along with about a million other of my fellow country men,who are deemed “domestic terrorists” by this Fascist State, because they have exercised constitutional law and have won cases in these imposter courts, confronted thug cops, corrupt judges and D.A’s. If you think I am kidding, Gordon, you have no idea, the sacrifices that are being made by real men, as government tyrants, in vindictive, retaliatory, malicious and punitive raids, (much like the one Chad experienced), are attacking them, imprisoning them, as they are being run through admiralty contract courts like cattle, which traffic in men’s souls and property,

    There are political groups right here in Asheville, that have been targeted under operation cointellpro, their homes broken into, their computers seized, their property taken, their women and children violated by the fear that these alphabet agents/goons evoke and incite. These are all things you don’t know about Gordon. because you are too busy licking jack boots to realize what is really happening.

    Don Yelton is a real man, a patriot, real men do not cow down to bullies like Ron Moore, but that is something you would not know about Gordon, after all, it’s easy to criticize others, ensconced safely behind a veil of ignorance.

    See Gordon, its easy for you to criticize Chad from behind a type writer, after all, you are just some little man on the sidelines, relegated to second string, lacking courage and tenacity, qualities that have long since passed you by, as your testosterone rate declines , worse than the fiat Dollar. What have you done Gordon, to confront your slave masters, who rule over you and have stolen your money, your property and your happiness?

    Chad and Don are doing what real men do, confronting tyranny, oppression, and corruption in high places. Let me say it is not without a cost. Those like yourself Gordon who live sheltered little lives, in which you never press the envelope of your social regimentation and conditioning and who present themselves submissively to government, like a female baboon ready for mating, have a difficult time understanding those ideologically convicted real men, who confront powered wig tyrants in the Judicial system.

    The level of ignorance abounds concerning the arena of the court system, where the real daily struggle for freedom is played out, the real law, is forbidden knowledge for the sheep people to know. How could they know? They don’t speak the language of Satan, legalese

    Ever wonder why you were conditioned to know nothing about the law Gordon? Why you were never taught the law Gordon and why Gordon you were brainwashed into believing that only Attorneys can know the holy statues? Hmm?????

    Id say twenty of you Gordon would not make one Don Yelton or Chad Nesbitt. You are content to wallow in the mire and slop Gordon, which is fine, just do not criticize and mock real men who confront tyrants. Gordon.
    Heres your sign :

    Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.


    What a Moron, it has a mouth, and it can type and vote too. Pearls before swine

  14. zen

    OK, count me in to the growing membership of people who hit the ignore button on DR.ANTIEVERYTHING, a seething, hating self-irritant living in his own hypothalamus.

  15. Ken Hanke

    “a seething, hating self-irritant living in his own hypothalamus.”

    Vivid! And apt.

  16. Personally, I am mostly embarrassed and educated by his posts. His ideas aren’t all that off target in some cases, but his, er, approach and tone are so, ummm, stratifying, as to turn off even the most singed of the choir-members.

    Anyone seen my tinfoil?

  17. Laurel Asheley

    We do need a permanent solution to homelessness. How about giving these people a real home? Let’s start adopting these poor men into our homes and feeding them like they are our children.

  18. “OK, count me in to the growing membership of people who hit the ignore button on DR.ANTIEVERYTHING, a seething, hating self-irritant living in his own hypothalamus.”

    +100 to that! Perfectly said Zen.

  19. tysmom

    What I hear in this story is, that this man was very ill and he knew it. The hospital knowing this man had no money wanted him out of there. Obviously he was gravely ill. How sad is this.
    I too was taken to the hospital after a terrible car accident. I had a broken neck, and chipped hip bone.
    I had no insurance. They sent me home the next day.
    I am a single mother, with a full time job, and I pay my taxes. Now I owe Mission $13,000, the radiologist, the EMS and my body is a mess nearly 2 years later. I hope Mr.McMahan is in a better place.

  20. DonM

    I disagree on the “Ignore button” for Dr. A. I REALLY want to observe the changes in his thought patterns. It’s a wonderful opportunity to observe a potential dénouement of derangement.

    I can hardly wait for the next installment!

  21. brebro

    I would just like to know why the good doctor asserts that most Americans never read books, but he then proceeds to write one with nearly every post he makes. Does that mean he doesn’t really want them to be read?

  22. September Girl

    A while back, a local task force determined that creating structured, group home-like facilities with medical care, counseling and other “amenities” for a certain number of the top repeat offenders in the homeless population would be substantially cheaper than arresting them and/or sending them to local hospitals and would ultimately improve their quality of life and decrease their adverse impact on downtown Asheville. I wish I had all the facts in front of me, because as I recall, this was a thoroughly researched report and based on successful programs elsewhere.

    It is sad that in our society, we are condemning people to die like animals in cages without even exploring common sense (economically feasible) options.

  23. southern B

    Why is Asheville arresting the homeless, something bad in this town. There are others that can be arrested like a real felon. I hope some is looking into this cases like a real investigator. Where was Adult DSS for this man?

  24. shadmarsh

    DSS has very limited resources, not that that is an excuse… but we don’t like spending our tax dollars on the poor, lest they acquire Cadillac’s. (see: Reagan Revolution)

  25. southern B

    Dss is not limited for funds just knowledge and truly helping others in this area. I bet they help their families.

  26. Tracy

    For those of you who are tempted to follow the thinkings of men like DR.ANTINEOCONUS, I would challenge you to remember that there are two sides to every story and the old sayings reflect much truth. “Believe half of everything you see and even less of what you hear”. Please check this sight for some interesting information with regards to his regurgitated list. Anyone that can type google can reproduce his “Americas Top 20 Facts of (Law)”. Although I will choose not to believe either side until I have done my fair share of self-education. Is it not somewhat comical that so many people will take such remarks to be concrete? Forgive me for using this thread for something totally unrelated to the ill fortune of this man. I had to comment.


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