Like many couples, David B. Epps, 49, and Cindy, 48, had their "spot," and in Laguna Niguel, it was at the "perch," behind the local .
afternoon. As of late Thursday, friends had set up a makeshift memorial where they left balloons and flowers near the railing.
The first deputy on the scene attempted CPR, as did paramedics, but Epps was declared dead, O.C. Sheriff's Department Lt. Lloyd Downing said.
But Epps' fiancé, Cindy, said she only wants to remember her love and her "husband" as a person whom she met six years ago online via Myspace. He was born in New York. She is a Sioux City, Iowa native. They relocated to Laguna Niguel about five years ago because both sets of parents lived in Caliornia at the time, she said.
"David was a kind, caring, and compassionate man. He volunteered many hours after Katrina, helping people - That's how he was," she said through tears. "We were together for many years, and we were soul mates. He promised me that we would be together forever, for the rest of our lives. We were not married but we were engaged. Whenever we would meet up, we'd always say, 'see you at the perch.' It's a gathering place for many of the area's homeless."
And while they may not have been married on paper, the couple was "devoted" to one another and shared an area apartment. This is the same apartment that they offered on numerous ocassions to others who needed a place to stay.
Despite reports, Cindy, a full time customer service representative for a discount store, said they were not homeless. However, they did "panhandle on occasion in order to pay for the apartment."
She said Epps would display a sign asking for money near the a few times a week.
"It's called 'flying;' in other words, holding a sign up and asking for money," she explained. "We did what we had to do to make ends meet and pay for the place. But he promised me that we would never, ever be homeless."
Epps may not have been employed at the time of his death, but he did serve in the military in the 1980s, loved birds, and helped others in need, according to several who knew him.
"David was a frequent guest at our 'Hands of Grace' for the homeless," said local advocate, . "Hands of Grace is an interfaith organization, supported by five local churches. We strive to fill the gaps left by the reduction in services available to the needy. We host a dinner every Wednesday night at . We operate solely on donations. I wish we had been able to see how much pain David was in. I know that we cared about him very much."
According to Knab, over the years Epps had held several jobs in the restaurant industry, and she tried to set up interviews to help him gain employment. However, none ever came to fruition, she said.
Knab said she had talked with Epps a number of times, especially during the annual put on by the church. She said the last time she saw Epps was in June at the most recent cook-out.
Others at the church also knew Epps and spoke fondly of him.
"I knew David and will miss him. He was compassionate and cared about those around him. I'm not sure, however, what's meant by the characterization of transient. It's true that he didn't have a job at the time, but he was not homeless. He lived in an apartment in our community, which he shared with others when they needed a place to stay. Rest eternal grant to him, O Lord: And let light perpetual shine upon him,” said Fr. Kirby Smith.
Anyone wishing to send notes of condolence to Cindy, can mail them or drop them by at Faith Episcopal Church, 27802 El Lazo, Laguna Niguel, CA 92677, Knab said.
"David, your passing leaves a hole in our lives. I hope that you have found peace as you are enveloped in the love of your Creator," Knab said.
Another friend Craig, who lived in the same complex previously, said he has known the couple for five years, remembers Epps as a: "bird enthusiast and someone who was truly compassionate."
"He knew the name of every kind of bird in the area. He could identify them all," he said. "His favorite was the Red Eye Hawk, but he was not a fan of crows. He never did anything to harm the crows, though. He had his struggles like all of us, but he was a good guy."
Angela, another friend, said she, her husband, and their young son, lived with the couple in the apartment for about six months.
"We were down on our luck and things got bad," she said. "I was on craigslist looking for a room to rent after we had to leave our home in Santa Ana. David was the only one who was OK with taking in a family. He cared for my son like he was his own. He said my baby made him smile and that he was the closest thing to ever having his own child. "
Late Thursday, Knab said that Epps' parents, who are now divorced, expressed their wishes that their son will be cremated. Cindy and Knab said they may organize a memorial or some type of tribute at the church soon.