Family of Indigenous man found dead at recycling plant demands answers

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Unger was found once before nearly frozen to death in a recycling bin in the winter, she said. At the time of his death he was not homeless — he had temporary housing, and was on the waitlist for a more permanent home.

She and her husband Leslie Mitchell said the recycling company should have looked to make sure no one was inside before dumping it.

“Before they throw the bins in, look inside the bins … that’s essential,” Leslie Mitchell said at Holy Cross Cemetery Thursday, following Unger’s memorial service. “Look inside it to see if there’s anybody sleeping inside it, or worse, somebody’s dead inside it.”

Mary Jane Mitchell, left, and Leslie Mitchell, right, hold a photo of their son Richard Steven Unger at Holy Cross Cemetery on July 30, 2020. Unger was found dead at a recycling facility in Edmonton on July 21, 2020. Lauren Boothby/Postmedia

GFL Recycling has not responded to Postmedia’s requests for comment.

Unger is being remembered by his parents as a kind, caring, respectful person who struggled with depression and other medical issues. He had spent time in treatment centres, and smiled often and thought of others before himself.

While Unger’s family is calling for change, they also wonder if there was foul play. Police have said his death was “non-criminal” in nature.

On July 15, the night before he went missing, Unger’s parents said their son asked them to pray for him, and he was worried someone wanted to do him harm. The family is still waiting for toxicology results from the medical examiner’s office.

Homeless die in recycling bins

At least three people have been found dead at a different Edmonton recycling facility in the last decade.

Lenny Bowman, a 35-year-old homeless man, was crushed to death at Capital Paper Recycling at 15003 128 Ave. in July 2018, an autopsy found. In 2013, a body was found in a pile of cardboard with no indication of foul play, and in 2012, a 32-year-old-man was found dead in a shipping container with cardboard at that facility.



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