Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018

Homeless trans woman in SF died from heart condition, report says

Anastasia in an undated photo by Asher Berry.

Anastasia in March 2014. Photo: Asher Berry.

The homeless transgender woman found New Year’s Eve outside the Peet’s Coffee in the Castro district died of a heart condition, the San Francisco Medical Examiner’s office has determined.

Many who knew the woman best known as Anastasia, 50, said she’d appeared ill in the weeks leading up to her December 31 death. Those who knew her also said that she’d repeatedly refused offers of assistance, which is reflected in the medical examiner’s report.

The document was made publicly available Thursday, May 7. It lists the cause of death as “cardiomyopathy, not otherwise specified.” The manner was “Natural death.”

The findings come as the city prepares to implement a homeless death review committee, which is expected to be in place later this month. One of the aims of the panel would be to examine the deaths of homeless people to see what contacts they’d had with service providers, and what may have been done to prevent the loss.

Bevan Dufty, who serves as director of Housing Opportunity, Partnerships and Engagement for Mayor Ed Lee and who’s been involved in establishing the panel, said in January that Anastasia’s “tragic death can be a rallying point to make sure we don’t leave people behind.”

People have told the Bay Area Reporter that they’d spoken with Anastasia in the hours leading up to her death, and that she’d been on the bench in front of Peet’s, at 2257 Market Street, since the previous night. Her passing came during a particularly harsh cold spell.

A police officer told the medical examiner’s office that when he responded to the site at 6:30 a.m. December 31, Anastasia “told him that her leg hurt.”

However, the report says, “she refused medical treatment at the scene.” A rescue captain who was “familiar” with Anastasia reported that she’d “been taken to San Francisco General Hospital” because of lice and “alcohol issues.”

Citing information from police, the document says a neighboring business owner noticed Anastasia lying on the bench at about 9:35 a.m., “apparently unresponsive.” Officials have indicated she was pronounced dead at about 10 a.m.

San Francisco General provided Anastasia’s medical history to the medical examiner’s office. Those records reflected that she was transgender and said she’d exhibited “symptoms of grandiosity, delusions, and paranoia.”

Shortly after her death, Greg Carey, chair of the Castro Community on Patrol volunteer group, told the B.A.R. that in his group’s encounters with Anastasia, “she insisted you call her, ‘Your Majesty.'”

Medical records also said that in June, Anastasia had been treated for the mental health-related symptoms “and possible self-neglect, and then released,” the medical examiner’s report says.

The document indicates that for about three weeks after her death, officials weren’t able to find Anastasia’s family, but her property was eventually released to her sister.

People who knew Anastasia, who wore a scarf around her head, high heels, and had been known to wear a fur coat, said she was often outside Peet’s. She’d also regularly been seen outside the nearby Cafe Flore and the Harvest grocery store, or walking around the neighborhood. She was usually talking to herself.

The medical examiner’s report says a “pink shawl with yellow metal threads” was with her body, along with a pea coat and a camel hair coat, blankets, a Mickey Mouse watch, three Peet’s gift cards, cash, several packs of cigarettes, keys, and other items.

No drugs of any kind were found in Anastasia’s system, according to the toxicology report.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, May 12, 2015 @ 1:22 pm PST
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