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Sixth St. strangler?

By J.K. Dineen | Staff Writer

Published on Thursday, June 17, 2004


Homicide inspectors are investigating the possible strangulation of a Baldwin Hotel resident found dead in her room Wednesday morning.


Toni Edwards, 60, was discovered on a bed in Room 341 with severe bruises on her neck. Police said the case is being investigated as a possible homicide.


Dennis McConnell, who lives in Room 310 and once fixed Edwards' VCR, said he heard an argument coming from her room Tuesday night.


"It was something to the effect of her owing money and all of a sudden there was a choking sound," McConnell said. "Then it was quiet."


McConnell said Edwards earlier Tuesday night "went out and bought two $20 rocks" and returned to the room. He said dramatic yelling and screaming is so common in the hotel that he minded his own business when he heard it late Tuesday night.


"What goes on in all them rooms I don't get into," he said.


But David Perry, who works at the pawnshop across the street and described himself as the victim's boyfriend, said he doubted she was killed over a debt.


"If she owed anybody it would be me," he said. "As a matter of fact, I just gave her some money yesterday."


Perry said he was surprised to hear the death was possibly a strangling.


"I thought she had a heart attack while smoking crack," Perry said. "She didn't keep too much company."


Perry said he met Edwards while they were both homeless and sleeping on Pier 2. He said she was a sporadic crack user and a habitual consumer of cheap vodka. They lived together at the Mission Hotel but were kicked out because Edwards started too many fights, he said.


"When she gets high, she goes off on people," he said.


Edwards was the second Baldwin Hotel resident to die within a week, according to the Medical Examiner's Office, with Theresa Cerney, 58, dying of chronic alcoholism at the hotel on June 14.


Veteran residents of the hotel, located at 74 Sixth St., said it was too early to rule Edwards' death a homicide.


"They found a dead body on a bedspread, so it's not like the time they found the guy with the knife sticking in his chest," said tenant Antoinetta Stadlman. "Was it suicide? Did somebody slip something into her drink? Or did she have a heart attack? I'm surprised you're interested."


Perry said Edwards, who was HIV positive, had grown up in Union City and had two daughters there.


"She loved music and loved to dance," he said. "That women could dance to anything."


"She spoke her mind about everything," added McConnell. "If she didn't like you, she would let you know. She treated everyone like her son or her daughter."


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