Police Look for Answers in Man’s Violent Assault

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

CLEVELAND-- Cleveland police and the family of a mentally challenged man are hoping someone can help them track down a group of men who savagely beat him last week.

John Rager, 47, is being treated at MetroHealth Medical Center for a severe brain injury.

"I just want this person, whoever did this to come forward. I pray every day. I go to church every day. I just want him to get better. I miss him," said Dee Dee Rager, the victim’s wife.

Thursday evening, Rager was listed as being in fair condition.

Rager said her husband has no enemies. Despite being mentally challenged, he volunteered at his church, and for a decade and a half, worked at a Cleveland Heights bakery.

"We honestly think that because they didn't take his wedding ring and he only had two dollars in his pocket, they were out to kill him; they were out to do as much bodily harm as they could," said Rager’s sister, Jimi-Lee Hoover.

Cleveland police said some time after 2:00 a.m. last Wednesday, John was attacked by a group of men on East 152nd Street as he walked home from work.  He usually rides his bicycle, but it had a flat tire.

"We have attempted to pull surveillance video from the area, but based on where the incident took place and the positioning of the cameras and the time of the day, it's virtually impossible to make anything out from the video at that distance," said fifth district homicide detective, Michael Legg.

Investigators said a witness reported seeing several men standing over John after the attack and saw one run away.

Detective Legg admitted that when police officers arrived on scene, they first believed he was intoxicated; unaware that John often collected cans for recycling, some of them beer cans.

"I'm sure there was some alcohol content left in them. So they smelled a strong odor of alcohol emanating from the scene and the victim was not able to accurately answer their questions. So they weren't really aware of what had transpired at that point in time," said Legg.

Rager's family said John has no short term memory and needed staples to close a large cut in his head. They wonder if his mental challenges played a role in why he was attacked.

"It's sad that there are people out there that would hurt people almost to the point of killing them, for nothing," said Hoover.

A fund to help the family with expenses is set up in John Rager’s name at KeyBank.

(Click to read more on the story.)