Condemned To Death

The evening of August 23, 2017 will be one that will haunt me for the rest of my life. My brother Gary Hickenbottom was called to fix a water leak from a realty company he subcontracts for under one of her apartment buildings at 4:00pm. My sister-in-law contacted me around 10:00pm because he had never came home and she couldn’t reach him. What led to a couple of hours of calling family, the realty owner, hospitals and finally the police, the detective delivered the devastating news. While trying to fix the water pipe, my brother somehow became entangled in the wires and was electrocuted.

Condemned To Death


In search of answers to what really happened, we paid a visit to this apartment building on Kersey St. in Greensboro. We found out that what first appears as a nice building, was condemned last night after my brother’s body was found. Tenants were taken to hotels even before our family was notified of the death. The tenants had come back to get some of their belongings while we were there and were very willing to share what little they knew, and the problems they had been encountering in their apartments.

Condemned To Death

Latoya Cabler, right, has only been living there since March. She was just happy that she could stay with her boyfriend, Chad Vaughn Jr., left, until she could find another place to live. Others were not so lucky, and had nowhere else to stay.

Condemned To Death

Randy, who chose not to give his last name, was the last person to see and speak with my brother. He helped my brother pull this piece of plywood back, so that Gary could get in. Under the occupied apartments were apartments that had been boarded up.

Condemned To Death

Condemned To Death

Condemned To Death

What remained of these apartments were anything but nice or safe. Ceilings that looked as though they would collapse at any moment, mold, and exposed pipes were what was left of these rooms. Randy talked with Gary for a few minutes about the damage and about my brother’s favorite team, The Steelers, but then he left. That was the last time my brother would be seen alive.

Condemned To Death

Later that evening, the tenants started wondering why the plumber’s van was still there and tried calling Gary. They decided to call the police when they didn’t get a response. Details are few to know exactly what happened but Gary would have had to pass through this array of wires and then would have turned to the right to go deeper inside where his body was finally located. Whether his death was due to an unfortunate accident or negligence of the landlord, these living conditions are not okay. This landlord and their family have had many other apartment buildings shut down due to unsafe conditions and code violations over the past decade. Another instance was under investigation due to a child dying of lead poisoning a few years ago.Why must it take the death of an innocent person to have these buildings condemned?

Where is Daddy?

My brother had a two year old son Jesse, left, that doesn’t understand that his daddy isn’t coming home. He will never again play with him, hug him or kiss him goodnight. The crime investigator said that he must be told the truth, but how do you explain to a child your daddy’s gone (photos by Bernadine Hernandez).


In memory of the best brother anyone sister could ever have, Gary Hickenbottom (photo by Carissa Hickenbottom)


9 thoughts on “Condemned

  1. Patricia Morris

    OMG this is horrible. Rose I am so sorry that your family has to endure this loss, may he rest in peace. An experience like this goes to emphasize one of my frequent observations in life. Live every day of your life like it is your last. Tell those that you love, that you do. Be sure and visit an elderly family member. Pray to God each day.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Betty Blanchette

    my condolences to Rose and all the family; and I pray the Landlord will be held responsible and have to pay. This poor woman has lost her main support for her young son..the son and his Mother have lost something that no amount of money can ever replace.

    Rose’s Aunt Betty

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Scott Strader

    So sorry to hear of his passing, I knew Gary because we worked for some of the same rental management companies and he was as nice a guy as I’ve ever met, I’ve put your family on my church’s prayer list and I and my wife are praying The Lord will give your family comfort as only he can.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wendy

    This is so sad. Gary was a nice and funny guy!! He will truly be missed by everyone specially his lil boy. Our thoughts and prayer are with you guys durning this difficult time.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s