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Reverend: Homeless woman “did not deserve to die” in Chesapeake Walmart parking lot

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Posted at 11:46 PM, Apr 22, 2013
and last updated 2013-04-23 06:18:57-04

Portsmouth, Va. – A Portsmouth reverend who knew the homeless woman found dead inside her car at the Battlefield Wal-Mart in Chesapeake Tuesday said she did not deserve to die alone.

“Nobody deserves to die like that,” said Donald McLean, reverend of the Craddock Presbyterian Church.  “She was a sensitive, caring lady.”

Police found 60-year-old Barbara Harrell dead in the trunk of her car Tuesday in the parking lot.  They believe she died of natural causes.

“Thank God there’s something better after this life because it sure wasn’t good in this one for her,”  said McLean, who met Harrell years ago when she came to the church for help.  “She would just come for a while, and then disappear and we’d worry about her, and then she’d come back for a while.”

The reverend said Harrell was a nurse, but had fallen on hard times.  Still, he said her smile never faded.

“She was just very cheerful,” he said.  “When you talked to her you’d get a sense of being lifted.”

McLean said her last heard from Harrell around Thanksgiving 2012.  He and church members were hopeful she’d turn things around, but Tuesday’s scene showed the heartbreaking end to her story.

“It was frustrating because she was really bright, and she really had a lot of experience,” said McLean.  “She could really have done some good for some folks, but it seems like she never got the chance.”

“Take care of each other,” said the reverend.  “Everybody has a story.  Nobody chooses to be like that, regardless to what some people might imply, and if you got to know folks, and got to know their story, it would change the way you look at a lot of folks that are homeless.”