Friday, December 26, 2008

Body found in Bronx was former Mount Pleasant resident, 22

Stories like this break my heart!

My children are 29, 22, 20, 16, and 13.

This kid could have been one of my children..

Is this all we have to offer our children when and if they are lucky enough to leave foster care here in the US or abroad?

Body found in Bronx was former Mount Pleasant resident, 22

MOUNT PLEASANT - After early years in a Russian orphanage, John Hopkins-Drago got what many would consider a huge break.

A Westchester County couple that had already adopted his younger brother did the same for him and his sister and brought them to live in their Mount Pleasant home.

He never made the most of his chance.

Hopkins-Drago, 22, was brutally killed this week in the Bronx. He was stabbed multiple times and dumped in a garbage bag outside a Barnes Avenue apartment building, where the body was discovered early Sunday by the building superintendent.

Police have a suspect in the slaying but have not charged anyone with Hopkins-Drago's killing as of last night. A friend of the suspect's, however, was arrested Wednesday, accused of trying to clean up a crime scene after the killing, New York City police said.

James Medina, 23, of 782 Pelham Parkway was charged with hindering prosecution and criminal possession of marijuana. It was unknown whether Hopkins-Drago knew Medina or his killer.

Ann Marie Hopkins and her husband, Edward Drago, adopted John's younger brother, Patrick, more than a decade ago. Determined to keep the children together, they brought John and his sister, Marie, into their home within a few years.

John started out in the Briarcliff Manor school district, but because of discipline problems, he was eventually sent to live with an uncle in the Throgs Neck section of the Bronx, where he went to high school.

After his uncle died a few years ago, Hopkins-Drago did not return to Mount Pleasant, deciding instead to fend for himself. He lived with a series of friends, but in recent months, he had been living on the streets.

Marguerite Andersen, who lives next door to the family on Beech Hill Road, said she and her husband never really got to know John, but they marveled at how hard his adoptive parents tried to provide for him and keep the siblings together.

"He struck me as someone who was very street-wise. I guess growing up in a Russian orphanage you're going to see a lot of things," she said. "They were there to do whatever they could for him. He was given every opportunity. It's really just such a tragedy that it ended like this."

In recent months, the family's Beech Hill home was burglarized. No arrest was made, but his adoptive parents believed he was involved, Andersen said.

Other neighbors said yesterday that they were unfamiliar with the family.

Mount Pleasant police were notified of the killing on Monday and a detective was assigned to assist Bronx homicide detectives in their investigation.

Police are asking anyone with information to call 800-577-TIPS.

A funeral service was held for Hopkins-Drago in the Bronx on Wednesday, Andersen said.

Reach Jonathan Bandler at or 914-694-3520.

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