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Native American man found dead outside Phoenix group home

A neighbor said she was walking her dog when she found the man’s body lying on the sidewalk.

PHOENIX — Those living in a Valley neighborhood no longer feel safe walking along their streets.

“I carry a Taser now. I will not walk without one,” said Barbara Missaggia.  

She has lived in Western Enclave, a gated community near 91st Avenue and Indian School Road, for about two years. 

While walking her dog in September, Missaggia noticed something on the sidewalk – a man’s lifeless body out in the open with no one nearby. 

The way Missaggia said it was positioned made her believe the body was placed there.  “There’s no way they died right there,” she said.

According to an incident report from the Phoenix Police Department, the body was identified as Carson Leslie. A 44-year-old Native American man who was reportedly picked up in Flagstaff from workers at a group home in Western Enclave.

Two workers told investigators they found Leslie intoxicated on the side of the road and offered to help him get sober. The report claims while the workers and Leslie were driving back to Phoenix, he vomited in the car and fell asleep. 

Once they arrived to the group home and tried to get Leslie out of the car, they realized he was not breathing and “cold to the touch.”

When officers arrived, the report said they saw Leslie dead and lying on the ground. According to the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office, Leslie died from alcohol abuse.

The report claims the workers were with Victory Group Home. According to the Arizona Department of Public Health (DHS), Victory Home LLC has two licensed locations in Western Enclave. However, according to the police report and Missaggia, Leslie’s body was not found at either location.

12News contacted the administrator for Victory Home LLC who is named in the report. Her name is also listed in documents associated with the two group homes. 

She denied many of the claims in the report telling 12News Leslie did not throw up in the car and was not sick when he was picked up in Flagstaff. She also claimed he died at one of her licensed group homes.

According to DHS, that home closed on July 1, and was ordered to pay more than $18,000 in fines for several repeat violations, including workers not being properly trained and safety hazards inside the home.

However, the administrator did not deny picking up Leslie while he was drunk in Flagstaff.

During the past legislative session, lawmakers introduced a bill requiring group homes to notify family members of patients where their loved ones are being transported. It would also make it so rehab centers could not transport people under the influence. It stalled in the Senate.

“These are all people that have a problem to begin with either sober living or mental health issues that are being brought here,” Missaggia said. “We’re not sure it’s always under their own free will.”

For Missaggia and her neighbors, the whole situation is shocking but not surprising. She and others claim to have seen many Indigenous people being transported to several homes in their neighborhood.

“These are all Native Americans that are living here being removed from wherever they were, brought here and abandoned,” she said. 

Western Enclave has about 20 licensed group homes according to DHS. 

Missaggia believes there are more that are operating without a license. 

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