FORT PIERCE, Fla. -
Police say D-N-A and good detective work led them to 51-year-old Tommy Edwards on Thursday.
As he waits in jail for court appearances, the world goes on outside Verdell Sloan's house on Orange Avenue in Fort Pierce.
The 77-year-old won't get to enjoy Christmas, like the people grocery shopping just yards from her front door.
Detectives say they're relieved to have caught Edwards on Thursday, because what he did to Sloan back on Dec. 8 was so gruesome.
"What he said is that he had broken into the house to steal some pills and was confronted by her," said Dennis McWilliams, Fort Pierce Police spokesman. "According to him, she punched him in the face, and that's what started the whole encounter."
An encounter that officers say included gagging, binding, raping and ultimately, asphyxiation.
But it would be a shame to remember Sloan only as the victim of a brutal killing. The mailman who knew her for more than 10 years paused on his delivery route Friday to reflect on her friendly nature.
"It was a sad thing because only two days ago, I saw her in the street. It's terrible," said U.S.P.S. mail carrier Tony Peters. "I'll miss her dearly, and she was a very nice lady."
"She would go shopping twice a day, and people would come over to the house and have some tea or a meal. She was just that type of a giving person. So this was a horrible crime," said McWilliams.