Seth Barton Foster's mother, Marie Whitney of Chuckey, Tenn., said she wants people to remember her son as a kind and loving man who "wouldn't hurt a fly."
"I want people to remember him as a wonderful person," she said, "and not just a homeless man who died a tragic death."
Foster, 53, stayed in Atlanta with a girlfriend and also at a halfway house for about five years. He lived in Tennessee, caring for his grandmother much of the time, for about five years and was sober there, Whitney said.
Anderson County Coroner Greg Shore and his team initially planned to use DNA from Whitney to confirm that the body was Foster's.
Investigators were able to rehydrate the severed hands Friday and use them to positively identify Foster using fingerprints
he had on file with the Anderson Police Department, Shore said.
Foster had a minor criminal record. In 2011 he pleaded guilty to giving false information to a police officer and to causing a disturbance.
Tilley said officers have been talking to homeless people, business owners and anyone who may have seen Foster in the weeks before his death.
Whitney said the family is waiting for investigators to learn more before any memorials or remembrances can be planned.
"He had become estranged from a female friend here a few months ago and had been homeless since that time, but he seemed to want to live that way," Shore said. "One of my paramedics remembered him, because he saw him walking along a street a couple of months ago and stopped and gave him coffee and doughnuts."
"He (Foster) was a gentleman, easygoing, a man down on his luck," Dennis said.
Foster was given a coat and some clothes a month or more ago but only visited Clean Start about once a month.
"He was always, whatever you gave him and whatever we could do, he was so thankful and gracious to us," Dennis said.
He said there are perhaps a few hundred homeless people in Anderson.
The homeless people who came to Clean Start on Friday were curious about Foster's death, he said, but did not give Dennis the impression they were frightened."It's a hard life," he said. "There's not much that frightens them. I guess not even this, although I'm not sure."
Dennis said people should not get a bad impression, and most homeless people have no quarrel with anyone.
"Almost all of them are not bad," he said. "Some would give you the shirt off their back, literally, if they had it. Some are going to school. We've been here for six years, and we have a lot of success stories."