“Crazy Mike” Lives

by Bill Brenner on August 23, 2014

A couple years ago I wrote some posts criticizing fellow Haverhill residents for making fun of a mentally ill man — Crazy Mike, as he is unfortunately known.

Some jerks created a Facebook page dedicated to making fun of the man, whose real name is Michael Nicoloro, which was taken down after a wave of complaints.

Mood Music:

There’s been a lot of debate and speculation regarding Mike’s mental state and how he got that way, some saying it was from his experiences while serving in Vietnam. Others claimed that he’s not in fact a veteran and that he simply chooses to live the way he does.

Most recently, many have speculated that Mike had died.

I knew something was up when traffic for my posts about him shot through the ceiling.

I got in touch with members of his family, and his apparent death was news to them.

Despite any official obituary or other confirmation, the rumors persisted.

With that came more comments to my personal email about how I was an asshole for defending him and buying into the so-called lie that he was a veteran mentally scarred by what he saw.

Whether or not he’s a veteran is beside the point, but more on that in a second.

A trusted source told me he saw Mike this week in Central Square. He’s perfectly alive, so the death rumors can stop now.

My source believes Mike was off getting a 90-day evaluation. Whether that’s true or what for I don’t know.

Now, back to all the trash talk about his military status:

His relatives have confirmed that he was in Vietnam and that he came back with the scars of war. I’m more inclined to believe his relatives.

But as I said, it’s beside the point.

He’s mentally ill. Regardless of how he got that way, people have to be jerks to make fun of him.

We all have some baggage weighing down our souls. But instead of addressing our own issues, we judge other people.

Can an encounter with Mike be unsettling? Sure. Should he be kept off the streets? Not unless he has broken the law or hurt someone. I know of no evidence that he’s done that.

I do know for a fact that people have gone out of their way to bully him and set him off.

I’m glad he lives, and I wish him peace.

Now leave him alone.


{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

Janet Coburn August 23, 2014 at 2:27 pm

Well Said!
Thank You For Speaking Out.

Artie August 23, 2014 at 3:29 pm

Glad to know Mike is okay…

I have only spoken to him once about 25 years ago.
I was with a blind friend of mine (having heard the stories of him flipping out on people) I was very nervous when he approached us.
But, other than not understanding how a person could be born blind and insisting that it must have been a bad accident he was nice to talk to. We certanally didn’t have a deep conversation, mostly his farming experiences when he was young…. But, that interaction changed the way I thought about the man and wish him the best.

kayy August 23, 2014 at 3:40 pm

Mike is a really nice guy if you catch him on a good day. I stayed in the homeless shelter on Howe st and mike had been staying there as well. Hes perfectly capable of having a normal down to earth conversation and sometimes he can be unpredictable and distant. I was saddened to hear that he had died..I am glad that was false information. Anyone who would tease him or harass him, well maybe they need THEIR head checked.

Beth August 23, 2014 at 4:54 pm

Well written. I chased some kids away in Groveland once as they taunted him walking down the street before he got close enough to hear. I put it on the parents to educate the kids and for the grown ups, well – can only try to educate. Some will get and unfortunately many will not.

Gemigirl August 23, 2014 at 5:25 pm

I no long live in the area, but when I did, I lived in the same neighborhood as his parents. Yes he could have his bad days,as any of us can, but ultimately he is harmless.

Steven w teal sr August 23, 2014 at 5:55 pm

I’m glad mike is OK I’ve talked to mike a long time ago he OK from one Vietnam vet to another wellcome home my friend.

amber August 23, 2014 at 6:10 pm

Me and my husband saw him next to our house about a month ago, its horrible that people mess with him he’s actually a really nice guy and he keeps to him self…

Mary August 23, 2014 at 6:13 pm

I worked and lived in Haverhill for years. Mike was a staple then, he was a Vietnam vet who when he left to go to nam was a very bright and intelligent young man. Schizophrenia and war took most of that from him. He would come into b19 and sweep the floors on good days and on bad ones he would be loud and scary. He is usually missing in the fall and spring. I always thought that seasons must have had an impact on his mental health. I believe he has a place in the back yard of his folks home. He deserves to be treated with respect for he is a human being haunted by his past.

Helen Sheehan August 23, 2014 at 7:12 pm

Thank you for this well thought out and compassionate editorial. There but for the grace of God, as they say. I cannot imagine living outside as he does sometimes, surrounded by hundreds of people yet living such a seemingly lonely existence. I make it a point to stop when I address him and actually look at him so he knows it’s him I am speaking to. Especially during the holidays, when I wish him Merry Christmas he turns such a lovely shade of red! But you know he appreciates it because it is so seldom said I bet. Carry on Mike!

Jon Gore August 23, 2014 at 7:38 pm

Very comforting to hear that Mike is ok and has been seen, we have been on the lookout for him for a couple of months. I am his brother and the news (rumor) set us off on a search for the truth (and where he was). We were able to find out that he was taken to a VA Hospital somewhere in the state. We called them all, but with HIPAA guidelines the way they are, none of the facilities could confirm or deny his admittance. Thank you for sharing the positive experiences with him. I am also very aware of the negative experiences too, and can certainly see why some have the opinion they do. I will not find fault with them, unless they in some way provoked the scenario. The hatred, no I don’t understand that, not if you are aware that he is a mentally ill veteran who is almost 65 years old. Bill, thanks for reaching out to me a while back and relieved to hear the news, though I have not seen him myself yet. We know the inevitable day will come, when the news does not turn out to be a rumor. Hopefully that time is far off in the future.

bonnie August 23, 2014 at 8:21 pm

Many, many years ago, my mother & I were walking down the sidewalk when Market Basket was Zayre’s. Mike came walking towards us, carrying on like he usually did, he looked at me and said, “”I f—-d your mother!!”. I almost died laughing!!! That was the “worst” thing I’ve ever seen him do, and I’ve seen him, probably, hundreds of times. Everyone knows he’s mentally I’ll, and I think it’s awful that anyone would pick on or hurt him or anyone else that has a mental illness!!!

Ryan August 23, 2014 at 9:24 pm

He is actually a very nice guy. And any veteran in his position deserves the utmost respect.

Kelli August 23, 2014 at 9:57 pm

Thank you so much for posting this!

Alana Swiec August 23, 2014 at 10:07 pm

Mr. Brenner, thank you for standing up to speak for those who are unable to speak, defend or explain for themselves. Mental illness is tragic and stricks people indiscriminately from all walks of life. With the only divide being in the access of treatment. The heartache carried by family members is indescribeable. The frustration that mental professionals deal with due to the lack of funding is grueling. And the cause of this bottomless pit of fear, insecurity and loneliness that torments to the soul of the victims is the least understood of all illnesses. Until there is an understanding of the cause and a cure, I can only say that it is only with the Grace of God go one of us.

laurie August 23, 2014 at 10:08 pm

I can say when my uncle was killed in a Fire mike came up to my mom and told her exactlywhat happened that night in full detail. Thankfully because of that we knew who had started the fire and what happened prior. Even though the murderer was never arrested or charged it was nice to at least know what happened. Mike always talked to my mom. So we can say he was talking like anyone else. So those who picked on him or tortured him are just evil. I’m glad to know he is safe and alive. 🙂

John Montgomery August 23, 2014 at 10:46 pm

I never really new him. Must have been a nice guy.My mom god rest her soul used to let him live under her roof!!

Sheila August 24, 2014 at 12:32 am

Hi, I think I know the person you are talking about. I lived in Haverhill many years ago and as I recall he would walk down Main St. yelling at cars going by him and talk out loud to himself or whoever he thought was their with him. Their is a lot of mental illness and because people don’t know enough about it they just make fun of it because of their ignorance. If it is in fact the man I think it is then I believe he was most likely he has schizophrenia and like you said, no matter what it is nothing justifies anyone treating another human being badly. This man Mike is a much better person than anyone who has taunted this man. Remember, God created each and everyone of us, how you choose to live your life good or bad is your choice but God decides in the end what will happen to your soul for eternity.

Kerry fitzgerald August 24, 2014 at 4:57 am

My only personal encounter with mike was nice. I was in a store downtown looking at something. When I looked up he was looking at me and I smiled. I left the store 10 minutes later thinking he was a nice man. I’ve heard the ‘jokers’. People can be jerks.

Kathy August 24, 2014 at 7:44 am

I grew up in Groveland. He lived in the field next to my house when he was around. His Mum lived across the street. I defended him one day. Coming out of Zayre’s these kids pushed gum ball machines through a plate glass window. When the cops showed up they tried to blame Mike. I told the cops who did it. As a child he used to scare me but my Dad told me if he started yelling just tell him to stop. It WORKED! Mike reminds me of my childhood. 🙂 Glad to know he’s still around and kicking.

Janine August 24, 2014 at 8:29 am

Thank you for this update. I remember living in the condos just before the bridge in Haverhill that crosses over to Groveland. Mike would often visit our neighborhood dumpsters searching for food and other things he could use to survive. I recall a time my younger brother asked him what he was doing, though I don’t recall what Mike said to him, mike handed my brother some flowers, past their prime, and told him to give them to my mother. I knew at that point that Mike had a kind soul and behind his harsh exterior was a good man obviously struggling with something. From that point forward I always made it a point to give a kind smile and wave when I would see him. Now twenty years later, I stumble across this article, and the first thing that crosses my mind when I see him name and picture is that story. I hope that those who need to hear this story have heard it and will leave him alone going forward. God for bid if the tables were turned.

CHERYL August 24, 2014 at 8:32 am


Tanya August 24, 2014 at 9:03 am

Thank you for posting this story. It is nice to see that this man is still alive. I know of many homeless Veterans and some that are not homeless. I will tell you that ANYONE that says this man did NOT fight in the war is a moron and knows NOTHING about being a veteran , Mike has a lot of stories from the war, and come to think of it a lot of stories match that of my Grandfather who FOUGHT for OUR Freedom and this Country that we live in. It seems as though our society does NOT grasp the concept of the word RESPECT for ANYONE. I would LOVE to shake hands with this man and make sure that he is ok. I would love to talk with Mike and see what he needs. May homeless man/women have PTSD; PTSD is REAL it is NOT made up. PTSD was not treated when Mike and many others served and our VA hospital’s SUCK!!! There is NO ONE that cares for these men/women they treat them like garbage, push out appointments for months and months and months, trust me I know this first hand. So if ANYONE wants to help this man, get him to the VA and STAY with him until they see him, give him some food or get him a hotel room for a night so he could shower and sleep inside. No matter what any dumb-ass says Mike is a real person with real feelings and FOUGHT for your Freedom to treat him like a piece of garbage. If anyone sees Mike shake his hand, say something nice to him or even just smile.

I remember being told that even ONE smile can save a life!

Lisa August 24, 2014 at 9:10 am

Beautifully said. I live on route 97 and have witnessed too many adults, with their children in the back seats, honk at Mike in order to get a reaction out of him. Such a shame that people raising children have so little empathy for the mentally ill. I have also heard perfectly intelligent adults say how they wished he’d be put in jail, because he’s a “nuisance” in our town. How can we expect to raise empathic children in a society where adults taunt the mentally ill?

Tia August 24, 2014 at 9:27 am

Mike is a nice guy.. When I was a teen I worked behind the service desk and he would come in every day for coffee. When he’d get loud I would just say “mike what did we talk about??” I’d make deals w him that if he didn’t scream and yell he could stay. He always respected me… The funny thing is he saw me years later one day walking w my boyfriend and he asked me “hey why haven’t I seen you at the building ?” Lol my bf was like how the heck do u know this man. I told him I had another job and it was nice to see him. He smiled and told me the store wasn’t the same without me.. I think people just hear stories about him and of course he is going to scream when people are making fun of him. If people would stop and say hi they would be surprised. He is a very smart man..

Mary Ellen August 24, 2014 at 9:44 am

Well I am glad to hear he is ok and was so sad to think that I had missed a funeral to a Man whom I have felt such a burden for most of my life. I had wondered who would have went if he had passed since the rumor is he has no living immediate family. As ALWAYS I wish him well on his JOURNEY with love and PEACE. ~_~ ME

Ej August 24, 2014 at 9:52 am

A lot of it is done for attention. Gotta keep up appearences i know a guy thay grew up with him HE WAS NEVER IN VIETNAM PPL HE COOKED FROM DRUGS.

Jone August 24, 2014 at 10:05 am

Mood music: The Fool on the Hill by the Beatles
“but the fool on the hill sees the sun setting down and the eyes in his head see the world spinning ’round.

Kerry August 24, 2014 at 11:56 am

Glad to know he is ok. I live and grew up in Haverhill, and know his “name” and reputation. When I was younger I heard him swear and cuss at the fruit and vegetables at market basket. That being said, there are a lot of people who care for him (including my entire family and circle of friends), who would offer him a piece of pizza or something to eat. We would NEVER allow someone to harass him if we were in their area. People from the area (law enforcement as well) know he is not a threat. He has more people that care for him than I do, and I hope he realizes that people do care. The “Crazy Mike” name is unfortunate, but I’ve seen him my entire life, even if he hasn’t seen me. It’s people like him who are making people reflect on their behaviors towards others which are teaching them to be a better person.
In conclusion, some people do reach out. Some people do make an effort to help. The focus should not be on the negative, because we are all human, and everyone does what they do for a reason. I think most people would love to do something for him, but they don’t know how. I don’t either.

Jamie August 24, 2014 at 1:39 pm

I’m glad you posted this. I grew up in Haverhill and as a kid I heard plenty of stories about “Crazy Mike”. I’m positive I saw him many times as a kid on our weekly trips to Market Basket. None of my experiences of him were negative. In fact, my parents explained his status as veteran and that he was possibly mentally ill because of it. Having studied psychology I also know that almost 30% of homeless people in America have schizophrenia that is either undiagnosed, or left on treated due to lack of resources. Regardless of whether Mike is a veteran or not, he is a human being like all of us and a harmless one at that. He should be treated with respect and dignity like everyone else. Haverhill should focus more on reducing its amount of registered sex offenders living within its city limits and leave Mike alone.

paule August 24, 2014 at 5:50 pm

Thanks Iv seen him for all my 40 years now I know him better

Kala August 24, 2014 at 6:40 pm

THANK YOU , THANK YOU, THANK YOU!! I grew up in Groveland and Mike has his moments. I knew that he served in Vietnam and his illness definitely is from his time there. When Service Merchandise was in Bradford, Mike was a frequent visitor, I was working there at the time and Mike told me how I looked familiar to him. Then he had an outburst and was made to leave the store. I took my break, grabbed my lunch and went outside to see if he was still in the area. Sure enough he was, so I shared my lunch with him and we talked. I explained why I looked familiar ( which was because we both lived in Groveland and had seen each other in passing from time to time). He thank me for sharing my lunch and he was on he way. Treat a person, like a person, not their illness or handicap. Simple as that!

Kelly laponius August 24, 2014 at 7:59 pm

What a great story sad that people still are bullying Knowing how mental health effects most of us. And mike he is part of Haverhill and always will be and I TRULY BELIEVE WHEN HE DOES PASS WE AS FELLOW HAVERHILL PEOPLE WE dedicate a special area to him. STOP THE BULLYING HE FOUGHT FOR US what have any of you done for the city??

tim August 25, 2014 at 7:45 am

I have watched mike walk all around town for the past 15 years, I’ve seen him on good days and on bad, my boys, who know him as Mr. Mike not crazy mike, always give him a friendly wave or say hello which he always returns, I’ve always said hello and my wife once bought him a cab out of central plaza because he was a little bit tipsy, we have had several conversations with him and though he may not be what most people see as “normal” he is a human who has had many life experiences that make him who he is, I wish him well and hope to see him around town for another 15 years!

Kerry Bean August 25, 2014 at 7:49 am

I had talked to Mike a few times over the years. He has always been friendly to my kids when they say hello. He has told me that he wishes that he got the chance to be a father. My 7 year old suffers from a mild case of torticollis where his neck is slightly bent. This is something that is overwhelmingly unnoticeable to the untrained eye (even family members). When my son was 3 or 4, Mike asked me if he had something wrong with his neck. He even used medical terminology referencing his spine. He was right on and I was dumbfounded. He is very much a part of Haverhill and my family would miss Mr. Mike.

Kristen August 26, 2014 at 2:42 pm

I grew up in Riverside & Mike was always around. He was always friendly & nice when I was by myself but could get loud other times… I would too if kids were tormenting me. He would walk around the stadium with me & we even shared a sub at DJs once.
For those of you that think he isn’t a Vet, shame on you. My friend’s dad was in Vietnam with him. They would always talk when they saw each other & he could have clarity.
Sadly I see less & less clarity over the years, but I swear he still recognizes me.
I hope he’s happy where ever he is. Thank you for posting this ??

Kim August 28, 2014 at 4:08 pm

I grew up seeing him walking or riding his bike going off on tantrums and I remember the neighborhood kids being very mean to him to get a reaction. This was over 20 yrs ago now he is bullied on social media such a shame. Wish him peace & love.

tdash August 28, 2014 at 4:19 pm

Very well said.. I’m from west Newbury and worked in haverhill where he would come in and seem “wierd” or off a bit ,pretending to throw something at me and always seeming angry and muttering something but I always knew there was something more to it and he never did make contact which made me believe he had a good heart.. he’s a good person who’s been through bad happenings for our wellbeing and it hurts me that people who don’t understand t and or who are afraid of the unknown would hurt and judge him.. so glad you have brought this out cause he deserves undstanding not ridicule…

Diane Bear August 29, 2014 at 7:11 am

I happen to love Mike… After years of talking to him, waving as I go by, and offering dunkins…. One day I looked in my rear view mirror and he was waving back. People that tease him and make fun of him are Losers!

renee August 30, 2014 at 9:47 am

your article about Michael was heartfelt. he is a reminder that we should all follow the golden rule. does anyone really know him, I think not.

Dan b. August 31, 2014 at 4:15 am

I lived in. Haverhill over 20 yrs. ago, and everyone knew who crazy Mike was. A lot of people would make fun or do something to startle him, just to watch his reaction. Luckily I was raised better than that. It would be a daily occurrence to see him and his army jacket near the Y in Haverhill. Glad to hear he is still around. Haverhill in my memory would not be the same, if not for Mike.

Katlyn September 1, 2014 at 1:20 pm

Well said!!!

theresa September 24, 2014 at 1:22 pm

I love mike, hes such a funny guy whos just living life!!!

Kathleen Stevens October 17, 2014 at 11:13 am

Thank you for defending this unfortunate mentally I’ll man. Unfortunately some jerks have made yet another page dedicated to making fun of Michael. I made 2 complaints to Facebook & they refuse to take it down. I don’t know what else to do but continue to complain to Facebook & ask others to do likewise. In what world is this site acceptable? I’m sure if I dedicated a page showing this kind of disrespect to someone with cancer, everyone would be outraged. Where is the outrage for Mike? He served our country. The coward who created it doesn’t even identify himself!

Collette May 5, 2015 at 9:11 am

After hearing the Sad New of Mike’s passing yesterday, I found your blog. I love all the comments people have shared. Thank You for being such a caring inspirational person. God Bless You. Maybe you can share these wonderful storing now that is is gone.

Smitty May 5, 2015 at 8:12 pm

Please feel free to visit Michael Nicoloro memorial page and leave a note or flower for him or his family, if ever anyone deserves one its him.
Please click the link below.

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