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Family of suspect in 1983 cold case murder says she didn’t do it

Ernest Adams recalled the day in 1983 when his 92-year-old neighbor Edmund Schreiber was found murdered in his house on Hastings Avenue.

Saundra Adams, his oldest daughter, was 17 and a student at Kensington High School at the time.

On Wednesday, Saundra Adams was charged with second-degree murder in the strangulation of the frail World War I veteran whose house was two doors away. Her family denies she did it.

“Somebody broke in his house and killed him, but it wasn’t my daughter,” said Ernest Adams, who is 70. “They’ve been talking to her for six years. She doesn’t know who else was there.”

Assistant District Attorney Thomas M. Finnerty said in court Wednesday that some of the new evidence that led police to Adams was DNA found on multiple knots in neckties that were used to strangle Schreiber.

Her father said her fingerprints are in the house because she used to run errands for the elderly neighbor.

“They got her fingerprints because they’re all over the house,” he said. “My daughter cleaned the house for him,” Adams said. “She’d go get groceries for him. She ran errands for him.”

However, Finnerty said Saundra Adams has repeatedly denied ever being in the house.

“The defendant has consistently denied to police ever being in the victim’s bedroom where her fingerprints and DNA were found,” Finnerty said .

Saundra Adams was questioned a few years ago by Buffalo police, her father said. They took her downtown to Police Headquarters on Franklin Street, but they did not have enough evidence to arrest her, Adams said.

Police said Saundra had an accomplice in the murder, that there were other fingerprints discovered in the Schreiber house.

“That’s what they keep saying,” her father said. “Well, whoever it was must have done it. She wasn’t with anybody. She was 17 years old.”

Schreiber, born in 1891, was orphaned as a child. He served in WWI and was awarded a Purple Heart.

He and his wife raised their family in the house on Hastings, where they lived for more than 50 years. His wife died five years before he was killed. Slightly built, he weighed about 100 pounds and was visually impaired.

The Adams family moved in to their dream house on Hastings one month after the Blizzard of ’77, Ernest Adams recalled. He had been hired at the East Delavan Chevrolet Plant, a job he held for 37 years.

Saundra Adams is the oldest of three children. She has three grown sons and lived with the children’s father in the Bailey-Kensington neighborhood until he died about a decade ago, Adams said.

The block of Hastings where the murder occurred is between Bailey and Suffolk avenues. It is home to the former St. James Church and elementary school, today called Nativity Miguel Buffalo, a private middle school for boys.

The block is quiet and populated by retirees, said Adams.

Diane Handley lives on Hastings closer to Bailey.

Handley saw Saundra Adams a few days ago. Handley described Saundra Adams as a friend who kept a neat appearance

“Her nails, hair, everything was in place,” Handley said. “And she’s still my friend. Our boys (were) the same age. She showed no bad signs, no kind of way. She’d stop to talk to me for a few minutes on the way to the bus stop. She’d catch the 19 bus on Bailey to go to school,” said Handley, sitting on her front porch with her niece Carmen White, 25, and nephew Jordan Brown, 19.

“She was a beautiful person who never showed any harm to anyone else,” Handley said of her friend.

News Staff Reporter Melinda Miller contributed to this report. email: jkwiatkowski@buffnews.com

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