‘Everybody has a name,’ say those who knew Keith Wayne

Members of the public talk about the plight of the homeless and related concerns at a 2015 meeting at the Glenwood Springs Community Center that was attended by city officials and nonprofit service providers.
Post Independent file photo

When news struck last week that Keith Richard Wayne of Glenwood Springs was killed, community volunteers and charitable organizations that serve the homeless community were devastated. They were also troubled, not only by the tragic loss but also how Wayne was labeled merely a “homeless man” by media and police reports.

As previously reported, on June 20 authorities found Wayne, age 52, lying in a pool of blood outside of an office building west of the Glenwood Springs Mall. The cause of death was ruled a homicide by Garfield County Coroner Robert Glassmire.

Police apprehended their suspect, 42-year-old Trevor Torreyson, later that night at his camp site near where Wayne was found beaten to death.

Torreyson, also a member of the area homeless population who was known to police for other crimes, faces first-degree murder charges and remains in jail on $1 million bond. He’s to appear in court July 11 for formal filing of the charges.

According to Glenwood Springs Police records, Wayne also had previous run-ins with the law in recent years for things like illegal camping, littering, public drinking, trespassing, resisting arrest and one case of simple assault.

However, community members like Jamie Darien, who volunteers weekly at Feed My Sheep and monthly at the Extended Table soup kitchen, never viewed Wayne through that lens. Sure, he was “homeless” and got sideways with the law on occasion. But he was also a veteran, a father and an all-around compassionate human being, Darian said.

“When he would come through the line, he always was just full of gratitude, was always very polite, always commented on how well the meal tasted,” Darien said of her memories serving Wayne. “He was amazing as far as what he did throughout our community.”

Darien remembers how Wayne always found something to do between his time at work and volunteering.

She said Wayne did jobs like helping to set up and clean up for events like the Downtown Market and Strawberry Days, and he would also assist in numerous river cleanups.

“You never saw Keith panhandling,” Darien said.

Darien cannot say what led to Wayne to fall on hard times, because it was a question she never felt the need to ask him.

“I don’t ask about their stories unless they start telling them to me,” Darien explained. “I really don’t know, and I am being very honest with that, and I wouldn’t even venture to guess.”

Although she couldn’t recall what Wayne had said about his military service, she believes it was in the United States Navy.

“There’s a lot of veterans out there in need, and he was one of them,” Darien said.

Wayne was also a father of two. One of his adult daughters, Rochelle Wayne, phoned in during Torreyson’s advisement hearing June 22, but did not say anything during the proceeding.

“He was so intelligent,” Darien said. “He had an amazing vocabulary and a great way with words.”

Darien fondly described how Wayne would go as far as to help others compose letters who may not be able to read or write well.

“He was always very gracious … very happy guy. What a happy guy he was,” Darien said.

Karen Lee, the Salvation Army services director for Glenwood Springs, said Wayne did not consider himself homeless.

“I wish other roles, such as veteran and father, would have been included to pay respects to a victim of a crime,” Lee said in an email to the Post Independent after the initial stories of the murder. “Keith was educated and was a writer himself and words and labels abbreviated can be harmful.

“I advocate for a man who was more than homeless just as all the men, women and children with this label are,” she said.

Still shocked and saddened by the news of Wayne’s death, Feed My Sheep Director Karen Peppers declined to comment on the tragedy. Feed My Sheep runs the local day center for the homeless and the wintertime overnight shelter.

“She’s kind of like Glenwood’s own Mother Teresa,” Darien said of Peppers’ service, not only to Wayne but to anyone that walks down Feed My Sheep’s staircase.

“She’s changed the lives of so many in this valley,” Darian said.

Keith Richard Wayne was, without question, no exception.

“Rather than seeing homeless man killed, homeless man being arrested … when you put a label or that kind of description on someone and you don’t see their face and you don’t look into their eyes and you don’t know their names.

“Everybody has a name,” Darian said.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.