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Man found dead near MU campus: ‘How did it get undetected?’

Homicide near 19th and Wisconsin in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE -- A homicide investigation is underway after a man was found dead Friday morning, March 29 on the edge of the Marquette University campus -- near 19th and Wisconsin. Police were called to the scene around 9:30 a.m.

The victim is identified as 53-year-old Johnny Smith. However, the preliminary investigation reveals that the body appears to be that of a 45-year-old man who sustained a significant head injury.

The victim is not affiliated with the university.

"I'm kind of in shock a little bit," said Albert Perales, Marquette University junior.

Homicide near 19th and Wisconsin in Milwaukee

"It's just kind of like how did this happen and how did it get undetected," said Justin Roche, Marquette University School of Dentistry student.

Homicide near 19th and Wisconsin in Milwaukee

Homicide near 19th and Wisconsin in Milwaukee

The Marquette University Police Department along with Milwaukee police are investigating the homicide on the steps of Redeemer Lutheran Church which is surrounded by academic buildings and student housing.

"It's crazy because I literally just saw someone, I was walking home from work the other day -- like two days ago -- and I saw someone sleeping there," Perales said. "Maybe it was that person right there. I don't know. It's crazy."

Homicide near 19th and Wisconsin in Milwaukee

The scene is down the street from several student dorms and apartments, and right next to Marquette University School of Dentistry.

Homicide near 19th and Wisconsin in Milwaukee

"Everyone has to walk over to class," said Greta Humke, Marquette University student.

The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office says an autopsy is scheduled for Monday, April 1.

"He was harmless. He never harmed anyone," said Anthony Tzamaloukas.

Anthony Tzamaloukas says the victim was homeless. He didn't know him well but had seen him frequently on the streets over the past couple of months.

"I've given him a couple dollars here and there," Tzamaloukas said.

Homicide near 19th and Wisconsin in Milwaukee

While students say security on campus is adequate, they say the crime serves as an important reminder to always be aware of their surroundings.

"We usually don't go anywhere unless we're in a group," said Humke.

"I feel so safe coming to school every day and to see that, it's kind of unexpected," Perales said.

Homicide near 19th and Wisconsin in Milwaukee

Church officials declined to comment on the investigation, and police have not released any information on a suspect or motive.

This is an active investigation and MPD continues to seek a suspect.

Marquette University released the following statement: 

"The Marquette University Police Department and the Milwaukee Police Department are on scene at the 600 block of North 19th Street near Redeemer Lutheran Church to investigate the reported death of an individual not affiliated with Marquette University.

"The area is currently an active crime scene, and members of the Marquette community are urged to stay well clear of the scene.

"The Milwaukee Police Department is the lead investigating agency; all questions should be directed to them."

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