SALEM — Marvin Joseph shocked early morning commuters Thursday by running naked on Canal Street in the freezing cold. Twenty-four hours later, he was dead.
Joseph, 23, of 143 Canal St., died yesterday morning after suffering severe head injuries when he apparently jumped off a third-floor porch behind his building on Thursday night, police said.
Joseph had been arrested Thursday morning after several people saw him walking naked around 6 a.m. near Crosby's supermarket.
A court psychologist deemed him competent to appear in court, and after being arraigned, Joseph was released on his own recognizance. Judge Richard Mori expressed concern and warned him to stay out of trouble and to report to a probation officer once a week.
At 8:11 that evening, police got a call from Joseph's roommate, who said Joseph was exhibiting bizarre behavior, performing repeated backflips off his roommate's bed onto his head.
"He kept telling his roommate he could fly," Detective William Jennings said.
The roommate, who had known Joseph for four years and lived with him for more than one year, attempted to get Joseph out of the apartment for help, police said. But after a struggle, the roommate fled for help and called 911. The roommate had never seen such behavior before, police said.
Joseph "went up to the third floor and jumped off the porch," Lt. Conrad Prosniewski said.
Patrolman Brian St. Pierre went to the apartment, found the front door broken open, went to the rear porch and looked out. He saw a "naked black man lying in a prone position in the leaves," Jennings said.
Jennings said Joseph suffered a closed head fracture and was taken to Salem Hospital and later flown to Boston.
He was pronounced dead yesterday at 6:17 a.m. at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Prosniewski said.
"It's a shame," Prosniewski said. "It really is."
Joseph did not have a criminal record, and police officers' first inkling of any bizarre behavior came on Thursday morning.
Prosniewski said Joseph appeared polite and coherent in court. He met with psychologist Dr. Randall Dwyer and "somehow he managed to pull it all together when he answered to the doctor."
Joseph pleaded not guilty to charges of lewd and wanton behavior, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and larceny, a charge stemming from his alleged theft of a long-sleeved jersey and a pair of sweatpants from a nearby laundry.
When police caught up to him Thursday morning, they said he entered a fighting stance and refused to give his name.
He also spoke of going to "a happy place, which is heaven, and I want you guys to come with me."
He eventually calmed down. When Prosniewski later visited him in his cell with Patrolman Brian Butler, they found him casually lying in his cell block and telling the officers, "Hey, come on in," Prosniewski said.
Several courthouse staffers said they did not notice anything unusual about his demeanor. Prosecutors asked the judge for "some condition of probation" to keep tabs on him, Prosniewski said.
"We obviously knew something was wrong. He was running around naked when it was freezing and fighting with police," Prosniewski said.
Detectives are investigating what could have triggered Joseph's behavior.
Joseph's court-appointed lawyer, Christopher Beares, said in court that Joseph worked as a part-time waiter at Boston Beer Works, but a manager who answered the phone there said he was not allowed to comment. The lawyer referred to "underlying issues" during the arraignment, but did not go into details.
Staff writer Julie Manganis contributed to this report.