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Transient woman found dead in Lodi

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Posted: Thursday, September 13, 2007 10:00 pm

A transient woman was found dead Thursday on a former railroad trestle in an area she often called home.

April Joy Vandermoon, 42, was found by a passerby around noon just south of Lodi Avenue above Highway 99. Police soon called in detectives because they initially thought the death could be suspicious, though investigators later said there was no sign of foul play.

Vandermoon, homeless for at least a decade, was fighting cirrhosis of the liver and hepatitis, according to friends and police. Investigators also found heart medication at the scene, Detective Sgt. Doug Chinn said.

The brown-haired woman recycled cans for a living, sometimes resulting in police citing her for using a shopping cart to haul cans and her belongings.

At one point she had lived with her mother in Stockton, but her mother has since moved, said Joe Donally, who met Vandermoon in 1994 at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.

Donally and Vandermoon became a couple after that meeting and lived on the streets of Lodi for years, until Donally decided in April 2005 to clean up his life. The two split up and Donally has been working full-time for more than a year, though he maintains contact with his old friends.

In less than a few hours after police put up yellow crime scene tape around Vandermoon's body Thursday, word of her death had traveled quickly.

"April was a good person; she had a good heart," Donally said, adding that he's lost about six friends in the past two years.

He said he received an offer of a cold drink of whiskey to make him feel better, but Donally turned it down, knowing that one drink would ruin his nearly two and a half years of sober living.

Patrol officers sent to the scene Thursday instantly recognized Vandermoon, then called for detectives because they weren't sure about the death.

She was wearing a shirt but no clothing below her waist, though there was no sign of a struggle, Lt. Chet Somera said at the scene.

Detectives talked to other transients who frequent the area, and they said Vandermoon had spent the last couple of days sitting there without clothing on the lower half of her body, Chinn said.

The county's medical examiner told Chinn that Vandermoon's body had likely been there for 12 to 24 hours, and an autopsy will be conducted today to determine the cause of death.

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • posted at 3:08 am on Tue, Sep 18, 2007.


    Your job here on Earth is completed and now, "Andare con Dio," April Joy.

  • posted at 12:44 am on Tue, Sep 18, 2007.


    Does anyone know where her mother is? I have been trying to notify her and so has the coroner. Can I leave my email address here?

  • posted at 12:23 pm on Mon, Sep 17, 2007.


    Does anyone know where her mother is? I have been trying to notify her and so has the coroner. Can I leave my email address here?

  • posted at 12:17 pm on Mon, Sep 17, 2007.


    I read the comments, both the good and the ugly.

    I just hope those speaking badly of my daughter do not have children that go before you do...

  • posted at 10:53 am on Mon, Sep 17, 2007.


    I read theses comments that you people leave in here and some people need to stop being hypocrites. Many people, like i said earlier, are 1 paycheck away from being homeless and on the streets. People usually judge what they are scared of. Human Beings are HUMAN BEINGS no matter their color, race, living situations or life preferences. You want to change the world. Well then grow up and help someone. If we all help someone to get them on their feet the world would be a better place!!!

  • posted at 3:44 pm on Sat, Sep 15, 2007.


    Thanks for the defense, that's exactly what I meant. I've been there myself and faced ridicule by the same type people that write these articles for this newspaper and the owner and editor seem to think that everyone besides themselves and their little circle jerk society here in Lodi are nothing but scum to them. Time to wake up gob's. Why is this homeless person front page news, but not the terroristic gangbangers and everyday crime not?

  • posted at 11:22 am on Sat, Sep 15, 2007.


    I think a lot of people are quite irritated that something like the skate park safety gear issue was front page news and the gang shooting seemed to be added as incidental.

  • posted at 11:19 am on Sat, Sep 15, 2007.


    What?: I believe T&C is referring to the gang shooting that took p[lace close to this area (Kettleman and School) this past Tuesday.

  • posted at 7:37 am on Sat, Sep 15, 2007.


    If April was your daughter would you talk like that? If you would,thats very sad!

  • posted at 6:26 pm on Fri, Sep 14, 2007.


    I guess I don't understand what some
    people write on the blogs...T&C does not
    say anything bad about April..they are
    slamming the Sentinel for not putting a
    drive-by shooting on the front page of
    the paper, or at least closer up front.
    They didn't call anybody any names so get with the program and read these
    comments correctly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • posted at 4:40 pm on Fri, Sep 14, 2007.


    "disease"??? What did they catch it from? A toilet seat?

  • posted at 4:15 pm on Fri, Sep 14, 2007.


    ive recently watched a man I care about go from home to homeless and living in his car that was given to him .I tryed to help and he had a buisness and lost it because of drugs and bad choices. now he is homeless and no one can afford to help or trust him again and hes to proud to go to a mission for help and bye the way he does have a job he says theres no work he spends his money very quickly anyway I hope he makes it out

  • posted at 3:02 pm on Fri, Sep 14, 2007.


    Then Jesus will turn to those on His left hand and say, "Depart from me because I was hungry and you did not feed me, I was thirsty and you did not give me to drink, I was sick and you did not visit me." These will ask Him, "When did we see You hungry, or thirsty or sick and did not come to Your help?" And Jesus will answer them, "Whatever you neglected to do unto one of these least of these, you neglected to do unto Me.

  • posted at 3:01 pm on Fri, Sep 14, 2007.


    On the last day, Jesus will say to those on His right hand, "Come, enter the Kingdom. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was sick and you visited me."

  • posted at 2:50 pm on Fri, Sep 14, 2007.


    J, you know what you can do with your tax dollars!

  • posted at 12:33 pm on Fri, Sep 14, 2007.


    Why is t&C calling us names we will always love April no mater what t&C thinks. I think April was happier than you TC. It seems like you are a very hateful person.

  • posted at 12:23 pm on Fri, Sep 14, 2007.


    Sad, very sad. A lot of us are one check away from being there, times are tough right now!!! Does anyone have a solution for the homeless?

    It has become apparent that handouts do not work. So what is the solution?

  • posted at 11:28 am on Fri, Sep 14, 2007.


    April rest in peace and God bless.

  • posted at 10:10 am on Fri, Sep 14, 2007.


    HeyGirl: April did not have any children. She recently was released from the hospital for her many ailments. Although April was a drunk and homeless by choice, she was a wonderful person when sober and could write poetry based on her life and those around her. She is finally in a place where she can finally rest with no demands being made of her.

  • posted at 10:04 am on Fri, Sep 14, 2007.


    What are you saying T&C? Your posts make absolutely no sense. Do you ever think before you post?

  • posted at 10:01 am on Fri, Sep 14, 2007.


    Donally is living proof that anyone can choose to turn their life around for the better.

  • posted at 9:03 am on Fri, Sep 14, 2007.


    Don`t speak ill of the dead people, very bad karma! Bad things can happen to self-righteous people just as sure as they can happen to those on the edges of society. No one gets out of this life alive.

  • posted at 7:36 am on Fri, Sep 14, 2007.


    May she rest in peace.

  • posted at 7:30 am on Fri, Sep 14, 2007.


    Maybe she was hit by a stray bullet from that drive-by shooting that made the back page in the Lodi News?

  • posted at 7:13 am on Fri, Sep 14, 2007.


    i hope all your saying bad stuff about the homeless suffer for your talk. have compassion. they are people too no matter what. druggies and alchoholics need help. it is a disease. so you incompassionate people rot in hell.

  • posted at 6:48 am on Fri, Sep 14, 2007.


    Does april have children?

  • posted at 6:44 am on Fri, Sep 14, 2007.


    some are there by choice and some are there by hard times,but don't knock them down because they don't have the life you have! the problem has a solution,but most people would rather look the other way than pitch in a few dollars to help the community instead of worrying about how much jewelry they can buy or how many cheeseburgers they can buy. they can take the time to ask them what would help them the most!!

  • posted at 6:27 am on Fri, Sep 14, 2007.


    not all homeless people are drunks, drug user and stuff. Do you realize how many people in this country who are not homeless are 1 paycheck away from being homeless. The homeless need our help to kick any habits they may have, get a roof over there head and just basically get them on there feet. They are people to just like you and me. Human beings are people no matter what their situation is

  • posted at 6:15 am on Fri, Sep 14, 2007.


    "Transient"? Try drunks, drug users, bums. It's their why of life they choose, and it's the way they wish to die.

  • posted at 6:13 am on Fri, Sep 14, 2007.


    We all have family members with problems. It is really sad that these things happen. Sounds like she is now in a better place.

  • posted at 5:49 am on Fri, Sep 14, 2007.


    And her hep C was probably due to i.v. drug abuse. Where do you draw the line and stop feeling sorry for these people their CHOICES?

  • posted at 5:19 am on Fri, Sep 14, 2007.


    Has anyone thought that she possibly had
    lost control of her bodily functions due
    to the liver problem and it was more
    sanitary for her not to wear underclothes, etc.. Also, do not be too
    hard to judge in the liver problem because it could have been caused from the hepatitis...I'm sure drinking didn't
    help, but have some compassion in Lodi!

  • posted at 4:29 am on Fri, Sep 14, 2007.


    we'll miss you april you'll truely never be forgotten my heart goes out ot you.

  • posted at 4:19 am on Fri, Sep 14, 2007.


    This makes me so sad. There has to be a way to help these people. I know that some are there by choice, but still they are human beings and need help to get back into a functioning part of society.

  • posted at 4:17 am on Fri, Sep 14, 2007.


    However, good for Joe Donnally for cleaning up his act and turning his life around. Many blessings to you as you continue to stand strong, resist and walk away from the alcohol, and continue to work hard. I know you are sad for your friend, but what a blessing that you are finally clean and making a difference in your life. Perhaps you can try to help make a difference in your 'friends' lives as well, before they die out on the streets.

  • posted at 4:15 am on Fri, Sep 14, 2007.


    April has gone to a place where her poetry will be read by all the angels. May her soul finally rest in peace. I'll shall never forget my friend, April!

  • posted at 3:21 am on Fri, Sep 14, 2007.


    sounds about right ,transidents no clothes a couple of days.notice anything wrong.

  • posted at 3:04 am on Fri, Sep 14, 2007.


    please don't waste my tax dollars on an autopsy. She was a sick, drunk, transient...how do you think she died...



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