CLEVELAND - A Cleveland man with intellectual disabilities is in serious condition at MetroHealth Medical Center after taking a brutal beating early Wednesday.
"I miss him so much," said DeeDee Rager, the wife of John Rager, the victim. DeeDee broke down in tears as she spoke about her husband of 13 years.
Cleveland police said John was walking home from work at about one o'clock in the morning when the incident happened on East 152nd Street near St. Clair. They have no suspects.
"I keep seeing John being attacked, and I know his face, and I know he would have looked at them saying ‘Hi, are you collecting cans too?" said an emotional Patsy Pulver, DeeDee's sister. "I'm so angry, I can't stop thinking about that."
John, like his wife DeeDee, was born with intellectual disabilities. He collects cans for extra money with his bike. John's bike got a flat tire Wednesday when he rode it to his job at Unger's Bakery in Cleveland Heights. So when he finished work, he took the bus instead, and then started to walk. That's when he was attacked.
"When I saw him at the hospital, it didn't look like him," said DeeDee Rager. "His lips were swelled, he had stitches on the back [of his head], just terrible."
"It's serious," said Pulver. "It's brain trauma that might not reverse itself."
The family said John, who loved to give hugs, is now bed ridden with no short-term memory and slow, slurred speech.
"What kinds of monsters are running our streets," asked Cleveland City Councilman Mike Polensek. "We can't let this type of insane behavior go unanswered."
Polensek has set up a John Rager victim fund as well as a reward fund. To contribute to the victim fund, visit your local Key Bank branch. To contribute to the reward fund, contact Polensek's office at 216-664-4236.
Polensek said contributions to the reward fund have reached $1,000 so far.
Cleveland police encourage anyone with any information about the incident to contact the Detective Michael Legg of the Fifth District. He can be reached at 216-623-2589. Anonymous information can be given to Crime Stoppers by calling 216-252-7463.