Downtown attack: Man fights for life after brutal beating

news-siteofnearfatalbeating-iKartheiser was discovered unconscious behind the bus stop near the Omni hotel.
PHOTOS: HAWES SPENCER, CHARLOTTESVILLE

The Charlottesville man found brutally beaten in some bushes at the western end of the Downtown Mall continues to fight for his life at the UVA Medical Center, with no guarantee he'll survive what authorities are calling a "quite severe" beating.

"He's in the balance," says Dan Kartheiser, brother to 55-year-old Robert Edward Kartheiser, who was found battered and unresponsive amid some bushes near the Water Street bus stop.

City spokesperson Ric Barrick says police received a call about an injured man between the federal courthouse and the Omni hotel around 8am on August 14. Barrick notes that because Kartheiser was seen uninjured by police officers in the same general vicinity around midnight Friday he must have been attacked during the early morning hours of Saturday.

Hospitalized with severe internal injuries and skull fractures, Kartheiser has remained in intensive care for over a week, at presstime, with breathing assisted by a ventilator and with damaged kidneys assisted by dialysis.

news-beating-karteiser2Kartheiser enjoys a country party with a young member of his extended family.
FAMILY PHOTO

Described in a city press release as homeless, Kartheiser has a colorful past that includes working in mechanical shops and in home-building. His brother notes that has restored log cabins and served on the crew that built the celebrated "tire house" near Batesville that was once owned by Dave Matthews Band bassist Stefan Lessard.

Friends and family began calling Kartheiser "Roberto" after he returned from a 1980s journey to Nicaragua, when the plight of the government-resisting Sandinistas drew his attention.

Including a stepson, Kartheiser has four children ranging in age from 12 to 23, and seven siblings.

He has been unable to assist investigators because he remains unconscious.

"We're just hoping someone saw something," says Charlotteville Police Lieutenant Gary Pleasants because we can't speak to him."

Kartheiser, who has distinctively long gray and light brown hair, has been a regular visitor to the Downtown Mall. Pleasants urges anyone who saw Kartheiser after midnight Friday or anyone having any information that could assist the case to call Crimestoppers at 434-977-4000.

–updated 10:35am Wednesday, August 18 with victim's age, middle name, hair description, and quote from Pleasants.

–rewritten for print with additional details and medical updates at 1:51pm, Tuesday, August 24

–CORRECTION: The second photo originally ran with the caption asserting that the child in the photo was Kartheiser's and asserting an approximate photo date as late-1990s.

73 comments

This post was set up because a man was brutally beat by someone or a group of PEOPLE. It DOES NOT matter the color of their skin of their wealth it does how ever matter that they are able to do something so horrible as this to another person. Maybe instead of bashing it out on this post you can but your energy to greater use and do something to improve the city of Charlottesville its is after all up to ALL the residents of the city, Right? Stop judging and start doing take this mindless act as a wake up call. Homeless does not make you bad, white does not make you great, black does not make you mean. Life gives you choices you choose who you become no matter your color or wealth. God bless this world we have messed up!!!

@lets take action - I feel your frustration and anger.

Prayers out to the man and his family.

Thanks, Mike. I was about to do the same thing.

Your brothers and sisters love you brother Berto. You'll shine no matter where the Lord decides to put you.

I am so happy to know that the is progress in Berto he is truly a man with great respect. Not saying prefect, he would be the first to say he's not but a man with a heart that is deeper then the average persons. As it has been said many times, Do not judge man for his worth but for his heart. Roberto is a very rich man. My prayers are with you!

You knew him well! Thanks for making me smile! :)

stuckinthemiddle, you have absolutely no evidence that a gang of black teens had anything to do with this crime. Supposedly the crime occurred between 2 AM and 8 AM. Do you really think that the kids would risk getting into trouble on the the downtown Mall on a weekend by breaking the curfew. I'm sure they realize that whites like you watch their every movement and would be able to describe them to the police. This year I will be 80 and I have been a resident of Charlottesville my entire life. I have never been atacked by any group of black kids the entire time.. If you or your family has several times, then I would suggest that somebody in your group is bringing upon yourself. If you looked at me with the venom that you speak of black teenagers I'd give you a once over myself. You have said many times on this blog that you will stop going downtown on the Mall. It's people like you with your disdain for others that help to make the Mall a v ery unpleasant place to be. Why don't you?
BTW, that man could have been beaten at that time of the night by anyone trying to get his stash from the bushes where he was found.

"The usual suspects"?

No, it's nothing new.

Four black teens came after my family just past dinnertime by the library and they hurled racial epithets while they were doing it. When I asked, in court, why it wasn't deemed a hate crime, I was told (I'm paraphrasing here) that you must prove they came after you specifically because of your color (I'm white).

These appeared to be run of the mill young wannabes, and I am old enough to have had some similar unfortunate experiences in my life, so I have to believe there are a large number of potential threats out there in the neighboring ghetto (I assume this because my family's safety is at stake). Not much has changed in 50 years, imo, and it's certainly not just only about race (lowlife's come in all colors - the murderers of Jane McGowan, for example, were white). It's hard not to resent the parents who can't do more for their kids with what's actually available - corruption begins at home.

It's a disgrace that innocent children are at risk in their own homes and in the streets where they live. It's a crime that they are encouraged to develop hateful and destructive habits inside their own community. I was shocked to find out they post videos of themselves beating each other in the streets, and it's hard not to be scornful of them, even if they are at a disadvantage, because I don't consider them truly disenfrachised my virtue of their color or class alone.

In the meantime, I work hard to provide and expect better. I wish I could enjoy downtown safely, but I am done demanding it - something much more complicated is going on - things that are broken can only be ignored at your peril, especially if you don't wish to play Russian roulette with our family's security.

My .02, and not looking to personally insult anyone in particular.

When I left Palm Beach County in 2000 I thought C'ville was low-key enough to no longer concealed carry as often as I used to in West Palm Beach, but I am seeing that this is not true... Not as bad as WPB, FL, or other urban cities, but serious potential for harm none the less... I will surely be packing when I venture anywhere near downtown and the surrounding trouble spots...

Sad that it comes to this, forced upon us by the criminal elemnets that seem all too common now days...

@AristotleIII - You have your guess? Then how about letting the police know? People out there personally know this guy and therefore might know if there was anybody he was having trouble with. It's called an anonymous tip.

I've known him almost all of my life. I know him as Bobby, my uncles of the same age called him that. He is a family friend that they grew up with as youths in McHenry, Illinois. Every now and then, he would stroll into town with his Motorcycle and his lttle dog that responded to Spanish Commands. Yes, the dog actually toured around the country with him on his motorcycle with the Antlers mounted to the front. He was more of a traveling free spirit that picked up odd jobs here and there. He helped hundreds of people get their homes built in return for food, lodging, and good conversation. Then he would travel to the next kind soul to help more. He has collected thousands of friends in many countries, and traveled many coasts. Bobby is more of a hippie than a homeless person. He has battled with his demons, but has always remained a kind friendly person. So sad to see something like this happen to him. Hope he gets well.

operation homeless in full effect

This town is going nuts, ive been here 23 years and never felt so unsafe. we need a batman, a normal dude who kicks the asses of evil villains who prowl the night looking for innocent people to pick on. AND WHY DO THEY DO IT??? besides boredom and ignorance? This man was obviously carrying nothing that would be beneficial to those people, so theres absolutely no reason this should have happened. I know theres no way to put a stop to evil in the world but dammit im sick of it!i can get mad and pray and what not but it wont change. Calling all rich people: use your wealth to make technology that kicks evil's ass and then we the regular class will respect you like you think we do.

Every local channel has been updating his status all evening. Turn on the TV or WINA. Still no change.

Charlottesville better get a handle on it's gang problem soon.

Where do the homeless go at night, 365 days-a-year in Charlottesville? If I could figure that out, I might become homeless myself!

Cville Eye, this guy has the same taste in shirts.
http://www.readthehook.com/blog/index.php/2010/09/07/before-bel-rio-jim-...

This guy has a cool preppy style collar, but he has a very similar shirt too.
http://www.readthehook.com/blog/index.php/2010/08/20/purse-smack-friends...
See why there might be some confusion now?

So Sorry to hear of these unfortunate events in a such a life that touched so many people, I was a good friend of "bobby's" when I lived I MPLS He stood up with me in my wedding. many fond memories. Any word on present condition? just heard of this yesterday

Thank you for all your kind words. Those of you who know Bobby, know he is a beautiful soul, whose genetics betrayed him. When I was much younger, my car was totaled. Bobby and his wife lent me the money to buy another car, and I was able to pay them back.

Bobby told me he never expected to be repaid. He gave the money to me freely, without expecting anything in return. That touched my heart deeply. He probably gave the money to someone else who needed it after that.

He used to say that being a loving person is a daily journey. I wish the people who beat him, knew the man they hurt. They could learn something from him, in spite of his challenges.

I do not understand how any truly human person, could kick a man when he is down, or worse yet, homeless and asleep. God help them to forgive themselves, when they finally have a long hard look in the mirror, and see themselves as the monsters they have become”Šso sad.

Bobby would forgive them”Šthat is Bobby’s heart.

I am stunned: I last spoke with Roberto only two weeks ago--perhaps a day or two before the beating--and this is the first I'd heard of the incident. (I don't have a TV.) He's an uncommonly kind and gentle soul, and it has truly been a privilege to call him my friend.

I hope that fate has as much compassion for Roberto as Roberto has for the rest of humanity.

I didn't know him well, but I did get the pleasure of conversing with him a few times. I wish him the best, whatever that may be.

Don't assume you know anything about the potential attacker(s). All you know is the input and the output; you can't make conclusions about the inner workings of the Black Box. Good man in, severely-beaten man out. He didn't just fall, that's all we know.

And having a firearm, and knowing self-defense or proper use of said firearm, are two COMPLETELY different things. I don't care how rich, how smart, how white or black, how young or old, how whatever you are - more guns downtown means more weapons, more violence, etc. If you choose to carry, PLEASE learn restraint and proper technique. A gun is best used as a deterrent, not an actual weapon.

Peace, and good travels, Berto.

For folks who are wondering about his current condition, I just saw him today. He's making eye contact, squeezing peoples hands, and even snapping when people say important things (as he loves to do). It sounds like there's more hope for him to live through this, but still uncertainty about what the lasting damage to his body and mind is. I see his strong spirit shining in him.
Thanks to all the people who are writing fondly of him -- it's great to read from other people whose lives have been touched by his magic... his songs, prayers, and stories that remind us of the deep love and connectedness that we all have within us and between us.

we are all praying Bobby recovers from this senseless crime..the Kartheiser Family have dedicated their lives for others..pray that their brother will once again bring joy and happiness to so many people ..

A heart of gold, a troubled soul, a twinkle in his eye, offering a helping hand or a word to make one smile. I hope you are not suffering Bobby. Wishing you peace and deep healing. You are loved.

Melissa

Yes, a troubled soul, and a heart of gold. Prayers for his healing.

I hope he'll be o.k. The hospital's not releasing any info (I called). When he gets out, I hope he can get some encouragement and support to make changes to his lifestyle.

Everyone please pray for Berto and his family.

Thinking of you, Berto, and your family, with lovingkindness. Hope you pull through!

I would say two things to the local Feds.
1. Homelessness could definitely be a disability.
2. Also in case ya don't know just being white makes you seem soft in some circles. Trust me on that.
Good luck handling this like we always do in Charlottesville. Ignore it and hope it goes away.

http://www.fbi.gov/hq/cid/civilrights/overview.htm

Defining a Hate Crime
A hate crime is a traditional offense like murder, arson, or vandalism with an added element of bias. For the purposes of collecting statistics, Congress has defined a hate crime as a "criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender's bias against a race, religion, disability, ethnic origin or sexual orientation." Hate itself is not a crime�and the FBI is mindful of protecting freedom of speech and other civil liberties.

@ Cville Eye your opinion but a antiquated one.

" Homelessness could definitely be a disability." Let's not dishonor the many by being ridiculous. Homelessness is more a disability than carlessnss or umbrellanessesss. Teethlessness is closer.

that's why I'd like to get the word out about my experiences. Alot of it doesn't get reported for reasons which are out of our control, apparently. Watch out for that 80 year man too, he sounds violent (and naiive).

No, i've worn enough striped shirts not to assume they are connected with a prison. Not only do they have them in yellows, blues and green they also have them in black and grey.

Thank you for your insight, Clint. Regrettably, it seems unlikely Roberto will survive, if this September 2nd "Daily Progress" article is still accurate:

http://www2.dailyprogress.com/news/2010/sep/02/beaten-homeless-mans-fami...

How sad it is this has happened. Something is very wrong here. Stay strong and get well.

I am stunned: I last spoke with Roberto only two weeks ago--perhaps a day or two before the beating--and this is the first I'd heard of the incident. (I don't have a TV.) He's an uncommonly kind and gentle soul, and it has truly been a privilege to call him my friend.

I hope fate has as much compassion for Roberto as Roberto has for hiI am stunned: I last spoke with Roberto only two weeks ago--perhaps a day or two before the beating--and this is the first I'd heard of the incident. (I don't have a TV.) He's an uncommonly kind and gentle soul, and it has truly been a privilege to call him my friend.

I hope that fate has as much compassion for Roberto as Roberto has for the rest of humanity.

Here is the Facebook thread (if I can copy it) from his classmates from Oak Park River Forest High School:

Kathy Sbarboro Foreit Thursday, Bob Kartheiser, clings to life by the thinnest of threads at the University of Virginia Medical Center after a brutal beating. A police sergeant says it is one of the worst beatings he has ever seen, but police do not know how Robert Kartheiser became a victim or more importantly, who is responsible for putti...ng him at death's door. (local news link attached) Thoughts & prayers going out to the Kartheiser family during this difficult time.See More
Police Investigate Assault of Homeless Man - NBC29
www.nbc29.com
nbc29.com | Charlottesville and Central Virginia News, Sports and Weather.
Sunday at 10:58pm · Comment ·LikeUnlike · Share · Report.

Kathy Sbarboro Foreit btw, Bob was fellow classmate of OPRFHS Class of 1973.
Sunday at 10:59pm · LikeUnlike.Dennis Stack I remember Bob. My sympathy goes to he and his family. i am shocked to hear that he was homeless. Hard to believe the things that can happen to any of us in the journeys we take.
Sunday at 11:20pm · LikeUnlike.Wendy Mybeck Stickney That is what I was thinking....I remember him, too.....I can't believe it....
Sunday at 11:45pm · LikeUnlike.Linda Giase-Froese So sorry to hear this and I too am shocked to hear that Bob was homeless. Sending prayers his way.
Yesterday at 12:36am · LikeUnlike.Greg Geyer i remember bob...will pray for him..so sorry...
Yesterday at 12:44am · LikeUnlike.Kathy Landem Hanley This is so shocking! Bob and his family are in my prayers
Yesterday at 7:25am · LikeUnlike.Barbara Ann Wunder How horrible. I am so sorry.
Yesterday at 7:27am · LikeUnlike · .Sheila Russell We were just talking about him the other night at our dinnner;(((
He was a very magnetic person, fantastic dancer, singer, road dog, mystery and a gentle soul. How sad that this has happened. my prayers go out to him and his loved ones.
Yesterday at 8:07am · LikeUnlike.Jayne Patten Praying for Bob and his family. Life is precious.
Yesterday at 10:11am · LikeUnlike.Jon Klem I knew Bob he was a gentle and witty soul. I can't believe he was homeless.
Yesterday at 10:11am · LikeUnlike.Sue Stefano Kathy,
This is so sad, he is in our prayers.
Yesterday at 12:44pm · LikeUnlike.Peg Sabatino How sad. I am praying for him.
Yesterday at 2:29pm · LikeUnlike.Gwynne Gertz Does anybody have a picture they could post of Bob from high school? His name is so familiar but I can't place the face. And it somehow seems important to be able to identify Bob, rather than leave him as "homeless man." Thanks.
Yesterday at 2:33pm · LikeUnlike.Barbara Ann Wunder Maybe someone could scan a yearbook photo.
Yesterday at 2:39pm · LikeUnlike · .Carol Manny He always made me laugh. What an incredible sense of humor. What a horrible ting too happen to him. Does anyone know if he has family?
Yesterday at 6:40pm · LikeUnlike.Christine Kates Hey Barb! Remember me? LOL!

Kathy! Nice to see you again! YOu should shoot me your number and please keep me posted for future events!

Thanks!
...
Christine Kates

PS: I do not remember this person Bob Kartheiser. I am wondering if I knew him once upon a time. I hope that he pulls through this really unfortunate incident. May god be wtih him!See More
18 hours ago · LikeUnlike.Peg Sabatino Rick says his brother knew Bob's brother. I forwarded the news to Rick's brother.
8 hours ago · LikeUnlike.

Bob is a tough hombre. Go Bob.

BERTO, BRO, WE LOVE YOU. SOREN, SYCAMORE AND JOSIE MAE

I hope he pulls through, recovers and those responsible are found. Homeless or not, he is a human being and we cannot stand for this violence.

...used to be a friendly place...

What is happening is this town? I've met him before, he is a different kind of cat but he seems like a decent human being. Really praying he makes it. So sad.

Hang in there brother. I know ya got the will and the fight to do so. The next round is on me.

His family says that it's not conclusive that he was beaten. He could have been hit by a car or taken a bad fall. Hopefully in time we will know.

I agree with boooo! among others

Bobby,
May the Lord bless you and keep you
May the lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you
May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace

@Boo

My guess is just a general one, as described by Hollow Boy as "worthless lowlife hoodlum scum that are increasingly coming to think they own much of the town after dark". Hardly useful to the police.

When I was an undergrad 10 years ago, you barely saw them. The last few times I have been to the corner late there were a lot more of them, just hanging around the street outside of bars and little johns. I saw some of them fighting on the street at the bar where Orbitz used to be.

I'm guessing a few of them were drunk and bored, and came across this harmless man.

Roberto is a sweet, kind, generous, helpful and harmless person who unfortunately has a problem with alcohol. This is really shocking. I hope for his sake and his family's sake (they are wonderful people) that he pulls through.

I have never met this gentleman, but I truely hope he will be okay, if someone did hurt him I hope they are punished.

Poor guy. I think I've seen him around on the mall. I'm so sorry this happened, and I hope he'll be OK.

This is so terrible. Why do people do this kind of stuff to an innocent human being. In the end it will come out who did this act. Something good will come out of this terrible thing. Lets all pray for Robert that he comes through this and justice will be done.

Not sure what happened to my previous post, so I will try again.
I suspect, but have no proof this is being done by a group of kids joining one of the many wannabe Charlottesville Gangs. I base this on the report from another source and people that there was another similar beating by a group of Teens at the Lexis Nexus Parking Lot. I know for a fact of two people jumped late at night on the Belmont Bridge in the past 6 months in the similar fashion. If the CPD is lucky to find some of these perpetrators the Prosecutor needs to bring the Feds into it and make this a HATE CRIME Charge. It is nothing LESS than that. I would guess that most people getting jumped are not black. Take that how you want but best believe that happens. Also to anyone that thinks this is New, this has always gone on, just you never heard about it.

@ All:
You might not know who some of us are posting on here, but rest assured I have more insight to this than most. I can also tell you this has happened many times this year to innocent people. You need as Charlottesville Citizens to demand more public information on the actual crime data that you never hear about in the media. I assure you there is way more going on, and way more drug activity than a lot of you are aware of.
As I stated before I have no proof butI suspect some wanna be bangers no matter what color they are. I also suspect they are not too bright, just sheep, and mostly not kind hearted.

Good luck ignoring these issues, another innocent person will probably suffer the same fate and it is sad. That is why I strongly suggest a stiff charge when someone is caught. This is a Hate Crime and the Feds could charge it that way if they wanted to.
I know for a fact after being here all of my young life this has always gone on, and will continue to go on. My advice to anyone be smart, roll in crews, and don't get caught slippen.

What I find interesting is that there has been NOTHING said about Robertos reason for being in the Virginia area at all.
Roberto WAS a member of a 500 acre hippy farm/ nudist colony/ community called Shannon Farms in Afton.
The members, including his own brother Danny threw him out on an ultimatum, forcing him to leave. Berto HAD a home. Berto HAS at least one child living there now.
Why all the comments about the C'ville police (CPD) not doing their jobs? They do a good job! 2 thumbs up CPD!!
What about Shannon Farms (SFA)? Aren't they at least a bit guilty of abandoning their own? Aren't they responsible for Mr. Kartheiser being homeless in the first place? Isn't his OWN brother responsible? 2 thumbs down Shannon Farms, 2 thumbs down Danny Kartheiser! And you promote peace and love....YEAH RIGHT

Carry a firearm. It's not hard to get a concealed permit

@Nelson, are you saying if a brother allows his brother to move in he's morally required to allow his brother to live with him regardless? Are you saying that if you have a rommate you are required to allow him to live with you forever? If you are, how silly. That community has rules. They had them before he moved in. He knew the rules. He's a grown man iand is totally responsible for himself, and whatever children HE HAS. iF HE'S UNABLE TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR HMSELF, HE CERTAINLY ISN'T CAPABLE OF BEING RESPONSIBLE FOR CHILDREN AND HE SHOULDN'T BE HAVING THEM.

I did not mean to use all caps. There was nothing to emphasize.

I did not mean to use all caps. There was nothing to emphasize.

Yeah, what we really need around here is a bunch of frightened Bernie Goetz clones firing at random groups of teens. That will solve the problem...

I Wish we could be updated on his status. Apparently he isn't as important as the wealthy UVa students.

It's funny how the last two cornballs feel perfectly comforable jumping to conclusions the perpetrators.

Ireadcville;
If you walked around town frequently, you would know the answer.

Who beat him up? I have my guess

Well, I will now be carrying when I go to the downtown mall. At least Charlottesville is very good with issuing concealed permits.

I have walked home (~1 mile) from the downtown mall late at night many times, now I wonder how safe it is.

This time it was a homeless person. Next time it could be anyone. And the UVa students are returning- more potential prey for the worthless lowlife hoodlum scum that are increasingly coming to think they own much of the town after dark.

The only mug shot that should be posted in this article, is one of the person or people who attempted to murder Robert Kartheiser on August 14th, 2010.

Pictures influence the court of public opinion, far more significantly than any well intentioned words written in your column. You have done Bobby more harm than good, by choosing to post such an inappropriate picture, and you are all intelligent enough to know this is true.

Posting Robert's mug shot for a past event, is very confusing to some readers, who appear to forget he was the victim. Focus on catching the violent person, or people who attacked him as he slept appears to have dwindled.

Sparking debate as to whether Bobby somehow brought this on himself, or deserved to be treated this way, due to his lifestyle choices, or personal challenges, is all completely inappropriate, given his circumstances.

More respect should be given to Bobby, by the press, who must know, how inappropriate it is, to use an old mug shot, to represent a victim of a violent crime, especially a picture that looks little like him.

Do you portray all the victims of violent crime in you community, by posting an article about them with an outdated mug shot, instead of a picture that more accurately represents? Would you treat a person of financial influence this way? How about another member of the news team? I didn't think so.

It would be nice if greater respect is shown online, by the bloggers who offer an opinion; but don't know Robert Kartheiser at all; but it is possible, they were just too adversely affected, by the mug shot you posted.

If you want to influence social change for the better, in your community, you need to abolish the practice of ever posting a past mug shot of anyone, in an article, out of context. You owe the man an apology, for sure. No one benefits from suffering insult, after injury.

Bobby is a person of worth, so please start showing him some minimal respect, and remove the inappropriately posted mug shot, from this article. Thank you!

There's nothing wrong with the picture. I didn't know it was a mug shot.
"Posting Robert’s mug shot for a past event, is very confusing to some readers, who appear to forget he was the victim." We can read.
Are you trying to show that you are more compassionate than everybody else? Why else bring up negatives?

I wondered immediately when the article first went up why a mug shot was used. The striped suit is pretty obvious and does make it look like the person in the photo was the victimizer rather than the victim.
Is Cville Eye trying to prove he is less observant than everybody else?

Bob and I went to high school together in the early 1970's in Oak Park, Illinois. He is a year older but we hung out in the same circle of friends. I believe shortly after high school he began his nomadic ways. He lives a spartan lifestyle by choice. Technically you could say he is homeless or transient, but I think a wanderer is more accurate. (Not a drifter.) Sure he drinks, but so do I. He truly is a kind and gentle soul. He is also very spiritual. I am not. He genuinely likes people. I do not. If he recovers from this he will probably say to forgive his attackers because they are misguided or confused. I would like to saw their heads off and put them on poles.

Danny Kartheiser is one of the kindest, most patient men I know. Those who know him, know this is the truth. Bobby would be the first to assume responsibility for where he does or doesn't live. The challenge I have, is understanding the cowards who beat Bobby almost to death.