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Neighbors, friends say apparent Moorhead homicide victim was warm and caring

MOORHEAD – Moorhead police are investigating a homicide after being called about 9:25 p.m. Wednesday to a house at 1209 Main Ave. owned by Henry Volochenko.

Officers were called to that address for a medical assist.

When they got there, officers found the body of an adult male.

Police say it is early in the investigation and additional information will be released later today.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is assisting in the investigation.

City records identify the owner of the home as Volochenko.

A neighbor, who declined to be identified, said Volochenko had lived in the house for many years and was known as a warm, caring person who would often open his doors to people down on their luck.

He said Volochenko, whom he described as possibly being in his 80s, was also known for collecting things, whether he needed them or not, and he said at times the home’s yard could become cluttered.

He said the city at one point required Volochenko to clean up his property. He said that happened, but the clutter had started accumulating again.

A Forum story about a Moorhead City Council meeting in 2007 mentioned that the council had given Volochenko 60 days to bring his property into compliance with city regulations.

The story said the property contained building supplies and other debris, as well as structures that did not meet with city standards and were built without a permit.

The story said that at that time Volochenko maintained the city was being unfair and that he had been cleaning the property and had made good-faith efforts to remedy the problem.

Volochenko’s neighbor said this morning that he noticed nothing suspicious in the neighborhood Wednesday night, other than police sirens, which he said is a common sound in that downtown neighborhood.

“Never a dull moment on Main Avenue,” he said.

A man who was riding his bike in the area of the house this morning, whom police took aside to question, said he knew Volochenko as Hank.

The man, who would not give his name, said he and others who stay at a nearby homeless shelter would visit Volochenko and do occasional work for him.

He said some people would take advantage of Volochenko’s generosity and steal items from him, such as tools.

The man said he rode his bike to Volochenko’s house this morning planning to visit with Volochenko about “who won the hockey game last night,” referring to the NHL championship finals game between the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks.

Leon Francis is a Fargo resident who said he came to know Volonchenko through his mother-in-law, who at one time was Volonchenko’s home-help aid.

Francis said he and his children would visit Volonchenko and help him by doing things like mow his lawn and till his garden.

He said Volonchenko became something of a grandfather figure to him.

“He was an awesome guy,” Francis said. “Make sure it is conveyed how great a guy he was.”

Moorhead Deputy Police Chief Shannon Monroe said the victim’s body was taken to the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy.

He said the victim’s identity has been confirmed, but as of this morning it was not being released.

Monroe said police did not have any information to indicate that any suspects were a danger to the public at large, but he said citizens are encouraged to “always exercise caution and safety in their daily lives.”

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