Homeless Man's Family Stunned by 'Boot' Story

Jeffrey Hillman was always 'a bit lost,' says relative

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 2, 2012 1:53 PM CST

(Newser) – Most of us were touched by the story of an NYPD cop buying boots for a homeless man on a cold November night. But the family of the man, Jeffrey Hillman, was simply stunned, the New York Post reports. "The last time we heard from him was maybe a year ago on New Year’s Day," says Tish Hillman, the wife of a Hillman brother in Allentown, Pa., where both play a prominent role at Greater Shiloh Church. "Once a year, he calls us to let us know he’s OK."

While Jeffrey's two brothers had good careers, Jeffrey drifted around New York, western Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, jobless and indigent since the early 1980s. In 1993 he declared bankruptcy due to New Jersey tax liens and ended up homeless. "He was always finding trouble, he was a bit lost," says a relative. Another says Jeffrey "has chosen that life, but he knows that our hearts and home are always open to him." As for Jeffrey, police haven't seen him lately—and "we're not looking for him," says NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly. "He has shoes now. He’s much more difficult to spot."

In this undated photo released by the New York City Police Department, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012, officer Larry DePrimo is shown on-duty.   (AP Photo/New York Police Department)
This photo provided by Jennifer Foster shows New York City Police Officer Larry DePrimo presenting a barefoot homeless man in New York's Time Square with boots Nov. 14, 2012.   (AP Photo/Jennifer Foster)
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