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Police Close Case of Homeless Man’s Feb. 4 Death

Despite witness reports, an investigation of the suspicious death turns up no conclusive evidence of an attack

Santa Barbara police have closed the case of a homeless man who died last month, pending further investigative leads.

Ross Timothy Stiles, whom police described as homeless, died from massive swelling to the brain Feb. 4 after being transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital from the 600 block of East Cabrillo Boulevard. He had been complaining of a severe headache, police said.

The officers who responded to the ambulance follow-up call the night before learned from his companions that Ross, 43, reported having been beaten by two men the previous Sunday. While attempting to interview Stiles at the hospital, one of the officers found him unresponsive. Despite an emergency operation, Stiles died Feb. 4.

Further examination revealed he had arrived at the emergency room with a blood-alcohol content of .368 and no external injuries. According to a police statement, Stiles complained of a headache but never told authorities he had been beaten.

Police interviewed two people who claimed they saw Stiles attacked. They described hearing glass breaking, and seeing two people run from a bathroom near Stiles’ campsite, according to the statement.

Investigators also report that an acquaintance of Stiles who heard about the alleged attack and examined him reported no broken glass or injuries. Other potential witnesses could not provide further information, they said.

After finding the coroner’s report could not pinpoint the cause of Stiles’ brain swelling, authorities ruled his death suspicious and closed the case.

Noozhawk staff writer Sonia Fernandez can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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