Remember a kindhearted police officer who bought a pair of winter boots and socks to a homeless man on a cold November night in Times Square, NY? Well, finally the man has been identified! His is name is Jeffrey Hillman and his homeless and shoeless appearance in the paper and online came as quite a shock to his family.
The family of Jeffrey Hillman, the shoeless man helped out by a police officer in Times Square, had no clue their relative was living on the streets.
His brother, Kirk Hillman, looked stunned as he saw a copy of The Post with his youngest brother on the front page — and was left speechless.
Hillman’s wife told The Post she followed the story on TV — but never recognized the bedraggled beggar as her own brother-in law, Jeffrey Hillman.
“The last time we heard from him was maybe a year ago on New Year’s Day,” said Tish Hillman, who lives with Kirk in Allentown, Pa., where they’re leaders at Greater Shiloh Church. “Once a year, he calls us to let us know he’s OK.”
Jeffrey, 54, became a national figure after a photo of generous NYPD Officer Larry DePrimo presenting him with a new pair of boots in Times Square went viral.
There are three brothers in the Hillman family, originally from South Plainfield, N.J. Alfred Hillman is a teacher in Lancaster, Texas, and Kirk is a minister.
Jeffrey, 54, shunned college or career training and Jeffrey moved around the east coast, staying in Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York, while his brothers went on to college and professional careers, He’s been indigent and jobless since the 1980s.
In 1993, he declared bankruptcy after a series of state tax liens in New Jersey. He ended up living in homeless shelters, most recently in Hell’s Kitchen and Harlem, reports The New York Post.
According to one of the relatives, Jeffrey Hillman “was always finding trouble, he was a bit lost.”
Jeffrey’s friends told the NY Post that he’s always on the move and often buys vodka from a store on 9th Avenue in New York, though he hasn’t been seen much lately. His family and relatives say that Jeffrey is also welcome at their homes.
Kirk Hillman’s daughter, Alegra Hall, who works as a producer in Maryland, said: “Jeffrey has his own life, and he has chosen that life, but he knows that our hearts and home are always open to him. “He knows that,” she said. “He’s well aware of that.”
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly yesterday said NYPD officials have not been in contact with Hillman since DePrimo’s generous gift. “We’re not looking for him,” Kelly added. “He has shoes now. He’s much more difficult to spot.”
Officer Lawrence DePrimo last week said that Jeffrey “smiled from ear to ear” after getting the boots. “It was like you gave him a million dollars,” he added. The 25-year-old officer said that he keeps the receipt for the boots in his vest to remind him “that sometimes people have it worse”.