Family found: Local homeless veteran died a few months ago

A homeless vet who was known in the St. Augustine community passed away a few weeks ago. A local police officer worked tirelessly to locate his family.

Action News Jax told you a few weeks ago about a local homeless veteran who died, without any family knowing about it. After dozens of calls and some detective work by a nonprofit, a cousin has been found.

Officer Steven Fischer with the St. Augustine Police Department never thought he’d be making this phone call. He never thought he could track down the family of the veteran who died a few months ago. This week, he called the cousin of John Meade Jr.

James Couture lives in Boston. He hasn’t seen his cousin since they were teenagers.

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“A great feeling to be able to hear about my cousin,” said Couture.

For years, Meade, who was homeless, would hang around downtown St. Augustine. Just about everyone knew him. He sat on the same bench every single day.

After he died a few months ago, no one in the community knew where he was from or anything about him. But Officer Fischer spent at least 80 hours looking for any kind of information about John.

He eventually found out John was a veteran and was honorably discharged.

Although his biological family didn’t make it to the funeral, there was still a family atmosphere. After our stories aired, Officer Fischer said he received dozens of calls from all over the country, including a call from a nonprofit, Miracle Messages, in California. They were able to find his cousin, James.

“People like yourself and others that cared, it’s a beautiful thing,” said James Couture.

Couture is so grateful that so many people came together for his cousin and for him.

“All the people have done so much, it’s just overwhelming, it really is,” he said.

While Officer Fischer never thought John’s family would be found, Couture thinks his cousin would be happy with things turned out.

“He’s looking down with a smile at you and everybody else,” he said.