Questions linger in death of gay Atlanta man

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A gay Midtown man who was reported as missing was found in Piedmont Park last week and died a few hours later, leaving his boyfriend left to pull together the pieces of what happened to his partner.

Mason Culler Wolfe, 43, was pronounced dead about 3:45 a.m. on March 28 at Grady Memorial Hospital, about three hours after he was found partially conscious in Piedmont Park near 10th Street and Argonne Avenue. Wolfe lived a few blocks away on 4th Street.

There were no visible signs of trauma on Wolfe, though his body did have some scrapes and bruises, according to Mark Guilbeau, a senior investigator for the Fulton County Medical Examiner. An autopsy was performed and investigators are awaiting the results of toxicology tests to help determine a cause of death, he said.

“We are waiting for those test results to come back and then we’ll go from there,” Guilbeau said. “We try to put all of the pieces that we have together — especially a gentleman that is found unresponsive in a park and is 43 years old. What has happened to him and why has it happened?”

Atlanta police are not investigating Wolfe’s death as a homicide or a suspicious death, said Atlanta police spokesperson Carlos Campos. But police did issue a Missing Persons Alert for Wolfe based on a report from his family. The alert stated he was last seen on March 25 and “reported as being upset and very emotional at everything while being in Piedmont Park.”

Unanswered questions

For Wolfe’s boyfriend of five years, Steve Gleken, his death has left him grieving and with unanswered questions. Wolfe and Gleken enjoyed a dinner and movie date at Gleken’s Tucker home on March 16 but didn’t talk for several days after that.

During the date Wolfe, who drove to clients for his job with Hospice Atlanta, was upset about a recent minor traffic accident, Gleken said. But there were no signs that something was amiss or that he was struggling with his longstanding recovery as an alcoholic.

“He was mildly upset but certainly not depressed,” Gleken said. “He said he was going to do more meditation, do more yoga classes and maybe reach out to a counselor. It was certainly nothing life altering. I didn’t get that impression at all.”

The two men lived separately. When Wolfe left about 11 p.m. after the date, the two men didn’t talk again until about a week later – a days-long stretch that was not uncommon for them. They often spent time together on the weekends and didn’t speak much during the work week. When Wolfe and Gleken talked again on March 25, Wolfe said he was either heading to Piedmont Park or was already there, Gleken said.

“That was the last time I spoke with him,” he said.

‘I am just in grief’

Wolfe died three days later at Grady. When he was transported to the medical examiner’s office, Wolfe arrived with no identification and his body was unidentified for a few days until investigators linked him to the alert from Atlanta police, Guilbeau said. Gleken learned of Wolfe’s death when he searched the internet and found the police alert and an obituary his family placed with a funeral home in Orangeburg, S.C. where they live.

Investigators hope to determine how Wolfe died – whether it was from a medical problem, internal injuries he suffered, suicide or some substance he ingested, Guilbeau said.

“We’re now in the process of trying to figure out what happened to him,” he added.

The results from a battery of toxicology tests won’t be known for up to 12 weeks.

In the meantime, Gleken is preparing to attend Wolfe’s funeral on Saturday in South Carolina. He’s trying to reach Wolfe’s mother ahead of the service.

“I am just in grief. I am trying to get inside his head and I am at a loss,” Gleken said.

Mason Culler Wolfe photo courtesy Steve Gleken


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