Friends Hold Benefit for Murdered Bartender
Friends and family gather at Breakwall Tavern to remember Annie McSween
The crowd had forced Laura Biggs against the wall of Breakwall Tavern in Mentor-on-the-Lake.
Hundreds of people had gathered at the Breakwall's benefit for Annie McSween, the Mentor woman who had been found murdered Nov. 26 near Mario's Lakeway Lounge on Andrews Road.
McSween, 49, had tended bar at Lakeway Lounge the night she was murdered. She closed the bar but never made it home.
Her body was found behind the house at 5612 Andrews Road, next to the bar, at 8:39 a.m. She had been beaten, strangled and repeatedly stabbed, Lake County Deputy Coroner Dr. Mark Komar said. She likely bled to death.
McSween also bartended at Breakwall, as well as the Mentor Fraternal Order of Eagles.
Biggs, a regular at Breakwall, sold raffle tickets to help defray the cost of McSween's funeral at the Dec. 4 benefit.
"She always had a smile for me from the first time I started coming here," Biggs said. "She always had a smile and a hug. It's just strange to be here and not have her here."
Angela Dragas is the manager of the Breakwall Tavern. She worked with McSween for 10 years. Her daughter, Ashlee, thought of McSween as a second mother.
"If she had a dollar in her pocket, you got 75 cents of it," Dragas said. "She really cared about taking care of everybody."
When Ashlee Dragas wanted to skip school one day, McSween picked her up from home with a case of Red Bull in tow as an incentive to go.
Dawn Ondo was McSween's friend in high school but lost touch with her over the years. Now, she regrets that. When asked what she missed most about McSween, she replied, "the years I lost, the years I would have spent with her."
Matthew Cortelli grew up next door to the McSween household and said he too thought of McSween as a second mom.
"I basically grew up at her house," Cortelli said. "She could turn any situation into a laugh. She had a great perspective on life."
Many of the friends who gathered at the benefit remembered McSween's sense of humor, trading stories about her ability to make them laugh.
Angela Dragas recalled one time McSween had been late to work and the bar's owner was giving her a hard time. Instead of getting annoyed or defensive, McSween quipped, "Well, this is the earliest I've ever been late."
Ondo said that McSween's daughter, Erica, and son, Justin, were doing as well as they could under the circumstances.
"Their mother would be proud," she added.
Those who wish to give to the Annie McSween Fund can give at any Charter One Bank.
Anyone with information pertinent to the McSween murder investigation is encouraged to call the Mentor-on-the-Lake Police Department at 440-257-7234.