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Family Shares Story of Man Found Dead Behind Dumpster in Victorville

VICTORVILLE, Calif. ( – A grief-stricken out-of-state family turned to the Victor Valley community, identifying their loved one and sharing his story in hopes of finding closure and comfort.

The body of 23-year-old Justin Moore, known as Fat J, was found behind a dumpster on December 18, 2022, at about 3:20 pm, in the 16200 block of Desert Knoll Drive, per a previously published VVNG article.

Deputies ruled out foul play as a cause of his death, and his family is having to wait several weeks for a toxicology report but said that Justin struggled with addiction, which may have ultimately claimed his life.

“My brother left Kansas to go to California with a girl in May 2021, which then became homeless. He’s been struggling with addiction and we recently found out he passed away,” Justin’s sister, Danielle Moore, wrote in the Victor Valley News Facebook group.

(Justin Moore and his sister.)

Moore posted on social media hoping to feel a bit closer to her loved one, wanting to just hear a story that would bring peace to her family.

“I feel like I need to hear something good that will allow me to feel a little better. If any of you guys have ever interacted with him at some point please tell me stories. I wanna know if he ate, slept, etc. I wanna make sure he had people to talk to, I wanna know he wasn’t alone out there,” his sister pleaded.

With her post in the social media group collecting over 1,200 ‘likes’ and 265 comments, many people shared stories of their last encounter with Justin.

Victor Valley News Group member Jackie Tranter-Skiles said, “I ran into your brother a few times. I recognized him right away. I’m sorry to hear of his passing. He was a nice man. Very polite and fun to be around.”

Vanessa Rae wrote and said, “I would run into Jay on the streets, and I would chat with all the homeless, he was usually down by 7th street by Big Lots, the 99 Cent Store, and Food4Less, he was always with someone,” and added that his hair still looked the same as in the photos the family shared.

The family’s Facebook post in the group was flooded with positive feedback from the community, including messages of condolences.

Again, it’s not clear what the toxicology report will reveal when it returns, but a growing epidemic the community is facing is that of fentanyl, as previously reported by VVNG.

In fact, in 2021, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, Coroner’s Division, reported 317 Fentanyl related deaths, according to their last full year of collected and analyzed data released by the department, in which many argue that many overdose deaths during that year were mislabeled.

“My 30-year-old precious niece died of a fentanyl overdose last year. Today is her birthday, they labeled it as she died of “Covid,” she did not, she overdosed and was an IV drug user for over 10 years” said Penelope Jay.

Other families shared similar experiences and stories of worrying about a loved one suffering from addiction in the Victor Valley.

“I am so sorry for your loss, I have a son 36, who also is homeless and living somewhere in the High Desert and suffering from addiction. I pray every day that he is safe and worry if he is eating, and if he is sheltered in the cold.” Stated Lisa Bernick. “People can be so cruel and mean about the homeless and their addiction, but they all have a family that suffers daily about their loved one.”

Bernick said the struggle as a mother is knowing that drugs can take a perfectly good person and turn them into someone unreachable, leaving the family not knowing how to help.

“No matter how hard you try, the reality is that the ending is most likely death, I dread that phone call, but know I will probably never see my son alive again. Prayers for you and your family, your brother did matter,” Bernick said.

The most ‘liked’ comment on the family’s post came from Bonnie Antista, who said;

“Rest assured knowing that your brother was loved by other people who were homeless and people from the local churches, but most of all by Jesus! Compassion is everywhere! My Brother too was homeless for years,” said Bonnie. “He loved on others who were addicted to drugs, or alcohol or who were mentally ill. I’m sure your brother was a kind human being and helped others as well. Our deepest sympathy for the loss of your brother. Keep all the good memories close to your heart of your brother, this is what I do when I miss my brother who passed away from here, and into the arms of God!” 

Justin Moore had no children. He is survived by his siblings, his mother Denise Gideon, of Kansas, and close relatives.

His birthday is January 11. He would have turned 24 years of age this month.

If you, or someone you know, needs help with a mental or substance use disorder, call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or TTY: 1-800-487-4889, or text your zip code to 435748 (HELP4U), or use SAMHSA’s Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator to get help.

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