A neighborhood handyman has been charged with beating, stabbing and strangling a 70-year-old grandmother last week inside her Blaine Avenue home, police said.
Lawrence Guinyard, 46, was motivated by robbery, police say, when he broke into the home of Mary McAllister and murdered her last week. He was charged with first and second-degree murder.
Guinyard -- a convicted felon with a history of violent crimes -- is accused of attacking McAllister with a butcher knife and robbing her.
Police discovered McAllister's body at about 9 a.m. last Wednesday inside her rear lower apartment at 148 Blaine Ave., where she lived alone.
The victim had trusted Guinyard to fix up her apartment, officials said.
Homicide detectives arrested Guinyard on Tuesday after they linked him to items stolen from McAllister's home and delivered to a pawnshop a few days after the grisly slaying.
McAllister lived at 250 Humboldt Parkway, about a mile away from McAllister's apartment.
"He was a handyman who did work around the house and in the area," Police Commissioner H. McCarthy Gipson said at a news conference. "After an intense investigation, the detectives uncovered a key piece of evidence that was sold to a local pawnshop."
Prosecutors and law enforcement officials also revealed details to The Buffalo News about the vicious way McAllister was killed.
"Her primary cause of death was strangulation and blunt force trauma," said Erie County District Attorney Frank J. Clark. "It's frightening. And for what? My guess is that what was taken was valued at no more than 100 bucks or so."
The murder happened in the city's Hamlin Park neighborhood, a quiet residential area near Canisius College.
Homicide detectives also are investigating whether Guinyard committed a string of unsolved burglaries.
"The people in the community were outraged, and this case got solved because people in the community came forward with information," said Detective Sgt. Daniel Rinaldo.
Rinaldo -- along with Detectives Mary Evans, Reginald Minor, Brian Ross, Michael Acquino and Michael A. Mordino -- worked around the clock on the murder of McAllister, a devout Jehovah's Witness and a retired caretaker for the elderly.
Guinyard was arraigned Tuesday in Buffalo City Court, where he pleaded not guilty. He is being held in the Erie County Holding Center and is scheduled for a felony hearing Monday.
Police said Guinyard tried to cover up the murder scene by spraying a fire extinguisher throughout the apartment, but his attempt failed.
"It was very obvious that he was trying to circumvent his detection, but with modern-day collection techniques, it was a crude effort," said Gipson.
Guinyard has a history of violent crimes, with arrests for robbery, rape and criminal possession of a weapon.
Records show that he was on parole for a felony robbery conviction in Manhattan up until nine years ago, according to Carol Weaver, a spokesman for the state Division of Parole.
Guinyard was sentenced to 1 1/2 to 4 1/2 years and served two-thirds of that sentence when he was released from Cayuga Correctional Facility in August 1996, according to Weaver.
Guinyard was on parole for the next two years, but during that time, in December 1996, he was charged with raping a woman in Buffalo. The charges were later reduced and dismissed.