'Living in the trees' Part 2: Doc's story - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

'Living in the trees' Part 2: Doc's story


In part 1 of this series on homelessness in SWLA, you heard Tarek Polite of the SWLA Continuum of Care talk about two kinds of homeless people: The ones suffering a temporary, sudden setback who are easier to assist and those with deeper issues.

In this installation, KPLC's Gerron Jordan spent time with Robert "Doc" Weidow at his home in the trees. His story is an example of how people are just one or two bad decisions away from traveling down his same path. 

"She saw an empty building, it was an old Piggly Wiggly store and she said I can turn that into a mission. I said 'baby let's do it,' " said Doc. 

He's talking about his wife, Janice, and her dream to open a mission near their home in Charleston, South Carolina. He can't remember the year, but remembers the name as the Crisis Interfaith Ministries.  

It's a mission that still exists today. In what would be a horrible twist of fate, in Doc's story, it's that very homeless mission that contributed to his homelessness. 

"There were two guys that came to my homeless shelter that night. They found out where she (my wife) was totally alone and they kicked through the front door and they raped and killed my wife," Doc said, fighting back tears. "The police showed up and my secretary said, 'Hey Doc, the police are here.' And I said, 'Why?' And they said,'Hurry up, hurry up, she's not dead yet.' I said, 'Who's not dead?' They said, 'Your wife.' And I said, 'Oh my god.' "

It was when the man charged with killing Doc's wife was sentenced to life in prison that he said he took matters into his own hands. Bad decision number one. 

"Not life, not when he gave my wife death, why would I give him life ... so, I walked in there and shot him," said Doc. 

After serving his eight-and-a-half year sentence, he hit the streets. He remembers locking himself in a motel room one night. Bad decision number two.  

"I locked the door and I started drinking," said Doc. "I tried to drink myself to death."

Running from law enforcement, he found himself in Florida, creating quite a rap sheet with local law enforcement for himself.

Doc Weidow's Q&A with KPLC's Gerron Jordan :

Q: How'd you end up in jail in Florida?

A: Trespassing, trespassing, trespassing. Fifty-three times, trespassing. I would wheel my wheelchair down the road and I'd get arrested for trespassing. I would sit there and eat a sandwich on the road in my wheelchair and they'd arrest me for trespassing.  

Q: There are lots of resources out here for you as a veteran. Why don't you take advantage of them? 

A: They want to talk about Vietnam and I don't want to talk about it. Everywhere I've gone they want to talk about Vietnam, and I don't want to talk about it. I lived through it, I don't want to talk about it. 

Q: For someone who doesn't understand, how would you describe what you go through on a daily basis? 

A: I survive. I survive, from day-to-day. When I wake up in the morning, you know how we say in New York, I'm blessed? I woke up this morning. I'm blessed everyday I wake up ... everyday I wake up, I'm blessed. 

Doc refuses to take advantage of resources that are available to him, however, help is out there. In part three of this series, you'll see just a few of the many organizations in SWLA who are committed to helping ease the lives of the homeless, whether they are receptive to it or not.

Part three airs on Thursday night on Nightcast.

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