William Charles Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Mon, 29 Aug 2005 02:49:02 -0400


Man on the street had love in his life: Girlfriend, family recall `wonderful

By O'Ryan Johnson
Sunday, August 28, 2005

To some, he may have been just another homeless man who died a brutal
death - but he didn't die unloved.

     On Aug. 13, Barbara Wade clutched the hand of Steven Neiber, an
alcoholic who lived on the streets and lay dying at New England Medical

     They shared a disease, alcoholism, and a love that had lasted 14 years.

     ``I just never gave up hope that he would stop drinking,'' the
full-time office worker said as she flipped through pictures of him on the
front step of her Beacon Hill apartment last week.

     Police found Neiber lying unconscious on Arch Street, with a head wound
that left him brain dead, doctors told her.

     Police used records at Pine Street Inn, a homeless shelter, to track
down Wade. Neiber listed her as next-of-kin. She raced to the hospital, and
once she got there, she held him for his last moments.

     ``I told him I love him,'' she said. ``I put the Red Sox game on real
loud. I thought, you never know. I just put the game on real loud and held
his hand the whole time.''

     At 10:30 p.m. she said, his heart - the big one that would give a
stranger the shirt off its owner's back - stopped.

     In New Hampshire, Sandra Veno, 41, a mother of two, has tender memories
of childhood vacations spent with her brother, Neiber.

     ``We were born 11 months apart,'' she said. ``People used to think we
were twins - we looked alike when we were kids.''

     The two lived together in a foster home until the age of 11, when
another family took custody of Neiber, splitting him from his sister and
older brother.

     Veno said she never saw or spoke with him after she turned 14.

     ``I wanted to always reunite with him, but we couldn't find him,'' she

     Neiber's cause of death has not yet been determined. His case has also
not been ruled a homicide. Though Nieber reportedly witnessed alleged
``Stomper'' Dennis Connolly attack another homeless man, Connolly has not
been tied to Neiber's death.

      Wade said that with the help of substance abuse programs she managed
to stay sober, while in recent years Neiber's drinking increased.

     ``He couldn't keep a job and I wouldn't let him live with me while he
was drinking,'' she said. ``It progressed. It just got worse and worse and

     But that never stopped her from loving him.

     ``He's not just another street person,'' she said. ``He was a
kind-hearted, sensitive, loving, funny, wonderful man.''

Michele McPhee contributed to this report.