Family seeks to retrace last months of man found dead by South Side tracks
The family of Steven Michael O’Brien is trying to piece together the last months of his life, from his last conversation with his wife in January to the moment the proud Bostonian was found dead last week near a set of South Side railroad tracks.
“He was my baby brother,” said Deborah O’Brien, his sister. “I just don’t want him to be a person who was forgotten.”
Pittsburgh police were alerted to a body on South Seventh Street above East Carson about 8 a.m. Thursday. The medical examiner’s office identified the man as O’Brien late Sunday night, and investigators have said it appears he had been there for an extended amount of time.
A cause of death has not been released, and police continue to investigate.
Deborah O’Brien, who lives in Boston, said her brother’s wife last spoke to him in January. They weren’t living together, but they visited together for coffee and lunch often.
Though he was eight years younger than his big sister and the two hadn’t been in touch for some time, O’Brien said they came from a big, tight-knit Italian family. He loved his city and was a proud Bostonian.
“Steven was a really good kid,” she said. “He was a very quiet kid, kept to himself – but he was a good kid.”
She said he met his wife, Elizabeth, in a drug addiction recovery program, and he moved to Pittsburgh to be with her in 2013. They had a daughter, Sandra, in 2014, and a son, William, a year later.
“He was pretty much out there without his family. He had his wife, thank God,” O’Brien said. “He was doing good for a long time out there when they were together.”
He’d wanted to start a new life, she said, and he was.
“He did try to start over again. He met a girl out there, obviously fell in love with her, married her, had a few kids,” O’Brien said. “He was just so young. I don’t think he deserved to be alone like that out there.”
Danielle Borgosano, Deborah O’Brien’s daughter and Steven O’Brien’s niece, said she and her mother tried to keep up with Steven’s whereabouts online. He relapsed in Pittsburgh, she said, and was in and out of jail for several years. Court records show he did a stint in the Lawrence and Allegheny county jails for child endangerment and, later, an assault charge. He was released from Allegheny County Jail in October, O’Brien said, but he’d violated his parole and was wanted for the violation. He’d been living in a tent camp near where his body was found. O’Brien and Borgosano said they are unsure why his wife did not report him missing.
“We don’t know what happened to him. We’re all the way in another state. You see that all the time, but when it’s your family member and you know them …,” Borgosano said, trailing off. “His name is out there, but he doesn’t have a face. People always remember a face before a name.
“We just want to know what happened to him,” she said.
Borgosano has set up a GoFundMe page to help with the cost of funeral and memorial services for her uncle.
O’Brien said she’s sure that someone in Pittsburgh has to know something. She doesn’t believe that his body could be there for a month or more without someone noticing it.
“He just wanted to start a new life out there, and he did,” she said. “I just don’t want him to be a lost person.”
Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, [email protected] or via Twitter .