Community pays for funeral after homeless man fatally beaten

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Residents in Swedesboro, New Jersey, are still reeling from the beating death of a local homeless man, whose nickname was "Buttons." (WPVI)

Residents in Swedesboro, New Jersey, are still reeling from the beating death of a local homeless man, whose nickname was "Buttons."

The community raised money to help pay for his funeral, and are now raising money for a reward to help catch his killer.

"You would see Buttons walking up and down the street or sitting on a park bench, but he didn't bother anybody," said Mary Beth Rambler of Swedesboro.

And that is why the residents of Swedesboro are trying to figure out why anyone would murder 60-year-old Sylvester Combs, who was a fixture in the tiny community.

He was discovered beaten to death last week in a trailer at an abandoned pallet factory in town where he sometimes stayed.

"We're shaken by this horrific crime. He was taken so brutally, that it wasn't necessary," said Rambler. "It's awful, it's really awful."

Rambler is on the board of Kings Things Christian Thrift Store and Pantry where Buttons was a regular and often stopped by for his favorite - chicken nuggets.

Pantry manager Carl Rainear tells us, "He was just a frail, kind person and no reason, couldn't think of anything, why anyone would do this to him."

Townspeople raised money to help pay for Button's funeral, which took place on Tuesday. And now they're focusing on doubling the reward being offered for information about the murder to $5,000.

"The hope is to hopefully motivate someone who was scared in the past to come forward now that they saw something," said Joe Giacobbe from the Swedesboro Business Association.

The Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office says it's continuing the investigation into Button's murder.

The benches he frequented are empty now, and residents in the quiet, idyllic community are still in shock.

"The reaction in town is devastating," said Giacobbe. "No one expected a murder in this town. Everyone liked him. He was a kind man, and he was a community figure."

Related Topics:
homicide investigationbeatinghomelessn.j. newsSwedesboro Borough
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