Janice Redfield says she doesn't know what happened between her brother and a woman found strangled to death in a downtown Augusta boardinghouse Saturday. She can say only one thing for certain.
"We want to give her family our condolences. We don't know what the situation is, but we want them to know we are very sorry," she said. "We're also very sorry for my brother."
Just before dawn in a gray bungalow on Sharpes Lane -- a narrow, one-way strip off 12th Street -- some kind of altercation occurred between 35-year-old Sheila McAllister and her bricklayer boyfriend, investigators said. He choked her to death inside his one-room apartment, then asked a neighbor to dial 911, police said.
Her body was found lying face up on the bed. Other than bruises, finger indentations and fingernail marks on each side of her neck, she appeared to have suffered no injuries, Deputy Coroner Grover Tuten said.
Forty-three-year-old Robert Redfield was arrested at the scene and charged with murder. He is being held in the Richmond County jail without bond.
Richmond County Sheriff's Investigator Jim Gordon said Ms. McAllister -- a mother of two who had been dating Mr. Redfield just more than a month -- arrived at the apartment at about 5 a.m. and police were notified at 7:16 a.m.
He said he could not comment on a motive because the investigation is ongoing.
The body has been sent to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation crime lab in Atlanta for an autopsy. Toxicology reports will determine whether drugs were in her system at the time of the killing, Mr. Tuten said.
According to relatives, Ms. McAllister lived with her mother and two sons, ages 20 and 17, on Dewitt Street. She was an employee at the Gordon Highway Kmart, where she stocked shelves and cleaned.
Most family members were at a loss for words Saturday and did not wish to comment on what had taken place that morning.
"We loved her, and we're going to miss her," her niece LaTrecia McAllister said.
This week, Mr. Redfield's siblings plan to pool their money to hire a lawyer. Most of them didn't know anything had happened until he didn't show up for his grandmother's funeral Saturday afternoon, Ms. Redfield said.
She described her brother as good-hearted, caring and a great cook who loves soul food. He is especially close to his family, she said, including an adult daughter, seven brothers, two sisters and more than 40 nieces and nephews. He lives next door to a brother, and he regularly cleaned his sisters' houses.
He told her he was in love with "Skinny," his nickname for his current girlfriend, she said.
"Something had to go very wrong for him to do that," Ms. Redfield said.
Ms. McAllister is survived by two sons, Rodney and Jamaal McAllister; her mother, Inez McAllister of Augusta; her father, John McAllister of Florence, S.C.; two brothers, John McAllister Jr. of Augusta and Nathaniel McDaniel of West Palm Beach, Fla.; and two sisters, Gloria McAllister and Cynthia McAllister, both of Augusta.
Williams Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Reach Johnny Edwards at (706) 823-3225 or email@example.com.