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'Person of interest' identified in death

Homicide investigators believe a 70-year-old Buffalo grandmother was stabbed to death by someone she knew, police sources told The Buffalo News.

Mary McAllister, a retired caretaker for the elderly, had been stabbed numerous times, probably with the butcher knife that had been tucked in her clothing.

Her bloodied body was discovered at about 9 a.m. Wednesday in her home at 148 Blaine Ave., a block from the home of Mayor Byron W. Brown in Hamlin Park, a residential neighborhood near Canisius College where violent crimes are rare.

A police source told The Buffalo News on Thursday that homicide detectives have identified a man described as "a person of interest" but no arrests had been made in the city's 15th murder of the year.

Family members described McAllister as a loving woman and devout Jehovah's Witness who had no known enemies.

"She'd do anything for anybody," said her brother, Clarence Taylor, who lives in Troy, Ala.

"We were very close, and she was a nice person. She gave me good advice, and she was a really good-hearted person. I'm going to miss her."

Buffalo police have not revealed a motive and said they were unsure whether this was a random act or the killer had targeted her.

McAllister lived alone in an apartment in the back of the 2 1/2 -story house, also occupied by a few other families.

She had been renting the apartment for about six months.

Family members said McAllister lost the house she owned on Durham Avenue when she ran into financial troubles.

Records show that McAllister filed for personal bankruptcy in late 2005.

"She really didn't have a lot of money," her brother explained.

Thursday, more than 24 hours after McAllister was found dead, police officers remained posted outside of the house, and homicide detectives continued to collect evidence.

Investigators also canvassed the neighborhood again, searching for anyone who may have seen anything suspicious.

Anyone with information should call the Homicide Unit at 851-4466 or the Buffalo Police Confidential Tip Line at 847-2255.

On the night after the slaying, the mayor spent the evening visiting his neighbors.

"He went door to door to console his neighbors, to reach out, and to speak with them and let them know that the police department is working hard to solve this case," said Michael J. DeGeorge, police spokesman. "It is not uncommon for the mayor to go to vigils and murder scenes."

Details of the funeral services were being finalized, but family members say it probably will be held next week.

McAllister, who was born in Troy, Ala., had moved to Buffalo in the 1960s.

In addition to her brother, survivors include a daughter, Brenda Taylor; and her 98-year-old mother, Vela Taylor, of Troy, Ala., who is planning to travel to Buffalo for the funeral.

e-mail: vthomas@buffnews.com

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