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St. Louis cathedral secretary stabbed, killed by homeless man

By Robert Brown
2002-285
12/20/2002
[Episcopal News Service]  A 64-year-old church secretary, known for her compassion and understanding in dealing with the homeless, died after apparently being attacked by a homeless man in the hallway outside her office December 19 at Christ Church Cathedral in downtown St. Louis.

Carol Bledsoe, who had worked at the cathedral for nearly four years, reportedly went into the hallway shortly after lunchtime to investigate a disturbance and was stabbed in the neck. She stumbled into the office of a coworker, who called for help while another coworker administered first aid. She was taken to a nearby hospital by fire department medics, where she died a short time later.

Police soon arrested a 45-year-old man outside the cathedral whom one officer described as having 'a mental condition.' The man was known to cathedral workers, although he was not among the regular group of homeless men who frequently participate in a morning breakfast program operated by the cathedral. That breakfast program was open as usual the next morning.

Bledsoe was known by her coworkers as someone who did not tolerate foul language or rude behavior from the homeless men and women who came to her office, but she never failed to go the extra step to make sure their needs were met and was patient in listening to their stories. She was on a first-name basis with many of the men and women, who called her 'Miss Carol.' As police taped off the Bishop Tuttle Memorial Building, housing the cathedral and diocesan offices, word spread among the homeless men gathering outside that 'Miss Carol had been stabbed.' A number of the men were visibly upset.

'I don't know what to say. All I know is that it hurts,' Dean Ronald Clingenpeel told a congregation of about 150 persons who gathered for a prayer service in the Cathedral that evening.

The next morning, members of the cathedral and diocesan staffs, along with a number of homeless persons attending the breakfast program, took part in a Rite of Restoring Things Profaned. Bishop George Wayne Smith sprinkled the floor with holy water, reclaiming the hallway and offices as holy space.

Funeral arrangements are pending. Bledsoe and her husband, Jack lived in the St. Louis suburb of Affton and were members of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in suburban Webster Groves. She is survived by her husband, a son, and two grandchildren