By Joan Ward George
Eric Burton confessed to detectives of the 101 Precinct Detective Squad that he followed 80-year-old Maggie Stewart into the elevator of their 54-30 Beach Channel drive apartment complex, rode with her to the fourth floor where they both lived, robbed her and stabbed her repeatedly causing her death. The incident occurred last Tuesday, August 1, 2000 at approximately 7:30 p.m.
Just moments before her murder "Miss Maggie", as she was affectionately called by her friends and neighbors in the Edgemere Housing Development, was sitting on a bench outside her building as she often did in the early summer evenings.
Burton, 32, with a criminal record, was charged with five counts of murder in the first and second degrees, two counts of robbery and burglary and tampering with physical evidence. If convicted, Burton can face the death penalty. The death penalty decision will be made 120 days after the indictment is handed down, according to the district attorney’s office.
"This was a vicious and unprovoked murder of an 80-year-old lady who lived on the same floor as the defendant," said Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown.
It is alleged that the defendant thought that Ms. Stewart had money in her possession and made the decision to rob and kill her.
On the night of the homicide, shortly before 8 p.m., police from the 101 Precinct were called to a domestic dispute at 54-30 Beach Channel drive, in the Edgemere Housing Development Complex. When they arrived at the scene, they found a 80-year-old resident of the building fatally stabbed to death.
"This wanton act perpetrated against a well liked senior citizen will be vigorously prosecuted."
-Richard A. Brown
Queens District Attorney
The victim, Maggie Stewart, was found lying in a pool of blood in the fourth floor hallway of her building. Her body, reportedly, had several stab wounds. Her body was transferred to Peninsula Hospital Center where she was pronounced dead at approximately 8:30 p.m. Ironically, Ms. Stewart had just returned home from the hospital late Monday, having survived a heart attack.
According to neighbors, Stewart lived alone in her Edgemere apartment. She had lived in the building for nearly 20 years. Her husband died several years ago, but Stewart still has many surviving children who also live in the area.
Detectives of the 101 Precinct Detective Squad made the arrest within hours of the homicide, and, according to Detective Cashen, assigned to the case, they were able to secure a confession during the course of Burton’s interrogation,
As The Wave reported last week, Ms. Stewart was loved by many. Friends and neighbors reported that that they could not understand why anyone would have wanted to hurt her. Described as active in her church, and loved by those in the community, she was known to many as "grandma".
"This wanton act perpetrated against a well liked senior citizen will be vigorously prosecuted," said District Attorney Brown.