Trash compactor killed homeless man asleep in dumpster

By Matt Zapotosky
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 20, 2009

The Upper Marlboro man whose body was found at a Laurel recycling facility Tuesday was homeless and sleeping in a dumpster when he was picked up and compacted by a cardboard recycling truck, authorities said Thursday.

Although they are awaiting the findings of the medical examiner's office, investigators believe that the death of Marcellous Lindolph Jr., 45, was an accident, said Maj. Andrew Ellis, a spokesman for the Prince George's County police. He said Lindolph was sleeping in a dumpster full of cardboard when the container was picked up and dumped into the back of a truck. That truck compacted Lindolph's body, and it was later found by employees at Encore Recycling, where the truck dumped its load, Ellis said.

"We do believe he was homeless, and at this point, it looks like he was sleeping in a dumpster and got tossed into the truck," Ellis said. "The sense is that it's an accidental death. That's what all signs are pointing at."

Ellis said it is not clear which dumpster the man was sleeping in because the truck's route ran throughout Prince George's and into Northern Virginia. Ellis said he did not know the name of the company that operates the truck.

An employee at Encore Recycling in the 13200 block of Virginia Manor Road declined to comment. Lindolph's relatives did not return a phone call.

Ellis said that police often find homeless people sleeping in dumpsters but that he had never heard of one dying after being put in a garbage or recycling truck. He said the incident highlights the dangers of sleeping in dumpsters.

"Those dumpsters clearly are designed for trash only," he said.

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