What drew the young victim into the alleyway behind his home before sunrise was the talk of neighbors in the Point Breeze section yesterday as they sat on stoops in the baking sun.
One friend said the boy had talked the night before about getting a bike he had seen there.
``He's not an angel. But he wasn't a demon child, either,'' said Aaron Sawyer, the owner of the nearby Crabs In The Hood restaurant. ``He didn't deserve the death penalty for a bike.''
Markheam's sister, Nikea, 17, said it did not matter ``what people say about him, because he is gone. Ain't nothing going to bring my brother back.''
A friend said Markheam had talked of taking a black mountain bike he had seen - but did not say it was on someone else's property.
``He was telling me about it when we were playing in the park,'' Muadhdhin Bey, 13, said of a conversation he had with Simmons about 9 p.m. Saturday. ``He said there was a black bike he wanted in the alley.''
Instead, the 13-year-old crumpled into the tomato plants of 85-year-old Laura Washington - separated by a six-foot fence from just such a bike, in Carr's back yard.
He fell a short walk from the rope ladder his brother James said he had used regularly to climb out of the family's tiny backyard, over a muddy mattress and through garbage down the nearly impassable alley.
James Simmons took care of Max, his dead brother's dog, yesterday and spoke through the fence of the family's rowhouse on the 2200 block of Greenwich Street.
``I went to sleep at 2 a.m., and he was still in the house,'' James Simmons said. ``I don't know what happened after that.''
Yesterday afternoon, Markheam's friends circled their Moto-Cross bikes on Greenwich Street and spoke, in whispers with their heads down, of a friend who was an expert bike mechanic and a dog lover so fierce that he converted two abandoned rowhouses on his street into makeshift kennels.
A pit bull named Foxy Brown lived in one abandoned house, friends said. A torn shirt tied to an electrical cord served as a toy. She was Markheam's favorite, and he hoped to sell her puppies until she miscarried last month. Max - half-Rottweiler, half-German shepherd - lived in the family's backyard. He was often seen pulling Markheam with a leash tied to the handlebars of his kick scooter, said Malcolm Crumb, 13.
``He helped me fix this bike with a chain and a new tire,'' said Muadhdhin. ``He was going to put new brakes on it for me.''
Markheam would go to the Nice `n' Clean Laundromat every day to play the Mortal Kombat video game. He was polite, quiet and quick to earn a few dollars carrying boxes, said a laundry worker who asked not to be identified.
But a neighbor who lived across from the two abandoned rowhouses said she called the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals last Monday and had three dogs - including the pit bull - removed.
``I'm looking beyond today, that the public will think this was such a great, typical, mischievous teenager,'' said the neighbor, who asked not to be identified. ``That's not true. To some of the adults in this neighborhood, he was atypical because of some of the problems created by what he did.''
Carr, the boxer, is a middleweight who has had some success, said Sawyer, who had the boxer's black-and-white publicity shot prominently displayed in his restaurant.
``No comment,'' Carr said as police led him away from his rowhouse.
No weapon has been recovered, police said.