BEDFORD (CBS) — Richard Hiort is heartbroken over the loss of his friend at the Bedford VA Hospital.
“It’s a deep loss. I am going to miss him,” Hiort said. “We were friends for a few years. He was a decent guy and very upbeat all the time. The kind of guy who didn’t want to burden others with his issues.”
The Middlesex District Attorney’s office said the man, whose identity has not been released, was found dead on Friday. He was last seen at the facility on May 8. He was reported missing a few days later. The 62-year-old was found in the stairwell of one of the buildings in the same clothes in which he was last seen.
Hiort said he and the man went through the substance abuse program at the VA together. He recalls the deep conversations the two would share about supporting one another through their struggles.
“I will remember those talks for a very long time, and his death will inspire me to continue my sobriety,” he said. “I felt I lost an old friend. I feel for his family and other people in here and folks who cared about him.”
The VA hospital is run by the federal government. The housing complex is leased by the company, Caritas Communities, which provides independent living for veterans who are free to come and go as they please. Caritas said the stairwell in which the man was found is not part of their leased area.
In a statement to WBZ-TV, the company said they “are committed to the health and safety of our residents and follow strict protocols when a resident is discovered missing.” Those protocols included calling police on May 13. Detectives did a search but did not find his body.
“We are looking at, obviously, the circumstances around which he was last seen and looking at the efforts that were made from that day May 8,” Disctrict Attorney Marian Ryan said.
The DA’s office is currently investigating the man’s cause of death.