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Published: Thursday, 3/4/2004

Stabbing victim is mourned

BY CHRISTINA HALL
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Stevenson Stevenson
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Mary Stevenson didn t let her speech impediment or other disabilities get in her way.

For example, the 49-year-old North Toledoan used a typewriter to put “From Mary” on pieces of paper she stuffed into Christmas cards, family and friends said yesterday.

That s why it s so hard for them to understand who could slit the throat of the well-liked woman inside her Northgate Apartments residence.

“She was a wonderful person, and I don t know why anybody would want to do anything to Mary,” said her brother, Roy Stevenson. Neither do Toledo police, who have no motive or suspects in her brutal death.

Ms. Stevenson s body was found Tuesday afternoon on a bedroom floor inside her first-floor apartment at 610 Stickney Ave. Authorities believe she was killed between 9:30 p.m. Monday, when her disabled boyfriend last spoke with her on the telephone, and the time her body was found.

Preliminary autopsy results showed “sharp force injury to the neck, with a large incision bisecting the carotid arteries and trachea,” said Dr. Cynthia Beisser, a Lucas County deputy coroner. A final ruling is pending routine toxicology tests.

Investigators said they recovered no weapons at the scene.

They said Ms. Stevenson s boyfriend tried to contact her Tuesday but couldn t reach her and became concerned. Mr. Stevenson said his sister and her boyfriend visited each other twice a week.

He said Ms. Stevenson usually met her boyfriend in the front of her building. When she didn t show up Tuesday, her boyfriend knocked on her door. Thinking she might have gone shopping with her brother, he waited at the building for nearly three hours, Mr. Stevenson said.

He said when Ms. Stevenson and her family didn t show up, her boyfriend asked someone to check on her.

A building manager entered her apartment, found her body, and called the fire department, police Lt. Bill Moton said. Firefighters summoned police.

Mr. Stevenson said his sister, who was born with cerebral palsy, graduated from a high school in Toledo. She never married or had children, but family and friends said she and her boyfriend loved each other.

The couple knew each other since they were in school. Mr. Stevenson said they lived together for three or four years, but her boyfriend moved when he became more ill.

Ms. Stevenson lived at Northgate Apartments for about 10 years. Although she used a wheelchair to steady herself when she walked, she was “pretty independent,” her brother said.

He said she used her wheelchair to carry her laundry, which she did herself. She also did all her own cleaning.

“She was an inspiration to us all. She never let her handicap affect her smile. Everyone here is very sad. She was very dear,” said friend Dorothy Gay, who played cards with Ms. Stevenson every Tuesday, dubbed “Mary s night.”

Mrs. Gay said she considered Ms. Stevenson “just like another daughter” who faithfully attended her husband s Bible study group. She and other residents were shocked to learn of her murder.

“She always was smiling. She was a very, very sweet person,” said Mary Highers, who knew Ms. Stevenson for about 10 years.

Mr. Stevenson agreed. That s why he s angry and hurt about his sister s death. He said she never had any problems or any harsh words for anyone. He said his sister always kept her door locked and wouldn t let anyone inside unless she knew them.

“I hope they catch [the suspect] and punish him,” he said.

Mr. Stevenson said his sister collected Social Security and didn t have a job. The family is concerned about how they will pay for her funeral, which is still being arranged.



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