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Family demands answers after 19-year-old found dead near Denver shelter

Xavier Wake's sister said he was sleeping in a tent during a cold snap
Xavier Wake.jpg
Posted at 4:16 PM, Feb 24, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-24 19:18:53-05

DENVER – Xavier Wake, 19, was found dead on Feb. 12 after sleeping in a tent on a street in downtown Denver. His sister is now demanding answers from authorities.

“The only way that they were able to identify him was by his tattoos,” Quintaisha Wake, Xavier's sister, said during a news conference Friday. “It's just hard to believe that he was literally on the same corner as Urban Peak and froze to death.”

Quintaisha said the last time she saw her brother, he appeared to be heading inside Urban Peak, a nonprofit that provides shelter and services to youth experiences homelessness.

“I was supposed to be getting a call back from the Urban Peak supervisor, but I never ended up getting a call back,” the sister said.

Community leader and mayoral candidate Lisa Calderón hosted the virtual news conference to help Quintaisha get answers.

“Quintasia reached out to me yesterday and, of course, in her despair of losing her brother, Xavier, who froze to death on our Denver streets, from my understanding, outside the Urban Peak in his tent. So, Quintaisha was very frustrated that she was not getting information from multiple sources, including the Denver Police Department, the Urban Peak, the DA's office, etc.,” Calderón said.

Quintaisha said Denver PD investigators are looking into her brother’s case, and after finding fentanyl paraphernalia near her brother, a special investigative unit is also involved.

A bigger issue

Terese Howard, Housekeys Action Network Denver (HAND) organizer, said there's few resources for those experiencing homelessness, and there's even less help available for youth like Xavier.

“It's devastating, and it's the result of a system that's broken, a system that's not working,” Howard said. “The implication of that is that we have thousands of homeless youth in our city right now. Thousands of youth are houseless, living on the streets of Denver, in tents, in alleyways, doubled up with friends, staying on buses throughout the night, anywhere that you can imagine — that's the reality. And that means that these folks are living vital young years of their life without the stability of a home, which is a horrifying reality.”

In a statement to Denver7, Urban Peak’s CEO Christina Carlson said, "the crisis on our streets and for people experiencing homelessness is palpable throughout our community."

“With a heavy heart, I can confirm that Urban Peak has been told that a youth passed away last week who had accessed services at Urban Peak’s shelter and drop-in center, known as The Spot.”

 “We feel pain and loss around the death of any youth who has had a connection to Urban Peak. The crisis on our streets and for people experiencing homelessness is palpable throughout our community.”

 “At Urban Peak, we provide a full convergence of services so that we can meet youth where they are and provide lowbarrier access to youth who are in crisis. Since January 1 of this year, we have served 513 total youth. As Urban Peak and our entire community process this devastating news, our priority is to support our youth, our team and this young person’s loved ones.”

 “Today is a sad day. As we look to prevent these needless deaths, we must continue to provide and enhance access to behavioral health, substance misuse treatment and, most importantly, supportive and affordable housing. We recently broke ground on an expanded campus, lovingly referred to as The Mothership, that will offer an additional 136 beds for youth ages 15 through 24, as well as supportive services including medical care, behavioral health, education, workforce development and case management. But there is an urgent need for shelter, affordable housing and support today. These life-saving services are far too limited and our hope is that we and our partners can continue to expand access and availability. We send our deepest condolences to Xavier’s family and all who cared for him. Every life is precious and as a community we must continue to work towards ending youth homelessness.”

“The youth are really struggling right now, and we just need more programs and people that actually care,” Quintaisha said.

Quintaisha said she just wants to know how this happened to her brother and to make sure his death doesn’t go unnoticed.

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