Man's cries for help ignored as he lay dying on Mission district sidewalk 

A man’s agonizing cries for help went unanswered as he lay dying on a Mission district sidewalk early Sunday.

Neighbors didn't call police until about five hours after Richard Sprague, 47, of San Francisco, was heard hollering "Help! 911! Help!" in the 100 block of Julian Avenue, near 15th Street. His pleas were heard between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. Police were called to the scene at 7:42 a.m., Officer Albie Esparza said.

Sprague was pronounced dead at the scene. The case is being investigated as a homicide, though the cause of death is pending an autopsy, Esparza said.

Several neighbors told The San Francisco Examiner they heard Sprague's plea for help, but also heard other voices outside and figured the situation had been remedied. They said drunk or drugged-up people often stumble through their street and make noise in the neighborhood, which is flush with nightlife.

A neighbor who called police about Sprague said she first saw him about 6:30 a.m. At the time, the neighbor, who wished not to be named for this report, thought he was “sleeping it off." She went back into her home. After returning about an hour later she took a closer look at the body and said she noticed bruising and swelling.

There was no blood on the ground, neighbors said. They said Sprague may have been dropped off by a van that fled. The homicide is The City’s eighth of the year, the first in the Mission district.

Anyone in the area who saw or heard anything is encouraged to contact SFPD’s anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or Inspector John Cagney of the SFPD Homicide Detail direct at (415) 734-3181 or during business hours (415) 553-1145.

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