The family and friends of Ray Roberson, whose dismembered body parts were found across New Haven this summer, have yet to find peace, as the cause of his death remains unknown.
On July 15, the New Haven Police Department discovered two severed legs by the State Street train station. Later that day, officers also discovered two handless arms. Both these body parts were identified as belonging to Roberson, a local homeless man who had last been seen alive on May 20. After the NHPD discovered that Roberson spent time in the old Salvation Army building at 301 George St., which is known as an unofficial shelter for the city’s homeless population, they searched the building and found a headless human torso next door at 274 Crown St.
The torso has not yet been identified as Roberson’s, but NHPD spokesman David Hartman said that it would be disturbing if the discoveries were found not to be linked.
“We don’t know if these body parts have been here for a week, or for a month,” Hartman said when the limbs were first found.
Uncertainty continues to prevail, as police have not yet found any other body parts that could be linked to this case, and no suspects have been revealed to the public at this time. One man found in the old Salvation Army building was arrested for criminal trespassing. Although he knew Roberson, he is not being held in relation to Roberson’s death, Hartman said in a release on July 31.
The case, which was originally considered to be the result of a train accident, is now listed as the city’s ninth homicide of 2015. While Hartman has maintained that there is no information indicating where the homicide or dismemberments occurred, he said after the discovery of the torso that the case appears to be a personally motivated crime.
Roberson was identified after samples of the discovered body parts were compared to DNA samples of convicted felons. According to the state’s judicial branch, Roberson was arrested in 2005, 2007, 2008, 2011 and 2012 for counts that include disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct and violation of a protective order. He has also served multiple jail sentences.
On May 5, according to state records, Roberson was arrested by the Yale Police Department for a breach of peace in the second degree. He was released with a promise to appear in court on June 17, but he failed to appear in court. His next court appearance was scheduled for Aug. 3.
Roberson was a graduate of Wilbur Cross High School and a former employee of Yale Dining. Roberson is survived by his six siblings. The family could not be reached for comment.
A memorial service will be held this coming Saturday at Christ Chapel New Testament Church at 11 a.m. Sherell Nesmith, one of Roberson’s sisters, told the New Haven Register that she wanted her brother’s memorial to be a joyous celebration of his life, as opposed to a reminder of its horrific end.
“We wanted to remember the Ray we knew all our lives,” she said.