Center City woman recounts fugitive creep's 'egregious' attack

Kenneth Todd: Photo credit: U.S. Marshals.
Kenneth Todd: Photo credit: U.S. Marshals.
Posted: August 08, 2014

ON A BALMY Friday afternoon late last month, Mary Ann McHenry of Center City obliged a stranger, handing him the cigarette he'd asked for.

Imagine her surprise and sheer horror when, hours later, the same bum who bummed a smoke from her had his hands wrapped around her throat.

"He kept screaming, 'Where's the money, bitch?' " a bruised McHenry, 46, said last night in a neighbor's home, where the attack took place.

"I had no breath; I couldn't even scream," she said.

"Then I passed out."

Kenneth Todd, 47, who police say brutally beat McHenry and made off with only a MacBook in that home invasion July 25, was still on the lam last night, with cops and U.S. Marshals hot on his trail.

"I don't understand this egregious violence," McHenry said. "He did this for what - a laptop?"

According to federal officials, Todd, who has a lengthy criminal record that includes arrests for robbery, burglary and aggravated assault, was paroled July 3.

He should have gone straight to his parole officer. He should have checked in on a regular basis.

He didn't, and instead had free rein of the city, up until the day he rode up to McHenry on a bike as the professional dog-walker was getting ready to fire up her electric scooter on Waverly Street.

"He didn't seem dangerous . . . he looked like a pretty normal guy," said McHenry, who also noted that stretch of Waverly can get a little dicey after the sun goes down.

"You expect at 1:30, 2 [a.m.], that bad things will happen," McHenry said, "but not at 10 p.m."

It was about that time that McHenry was heading to her home, on Pine Street near 13th, about a block from where she says she encountered Todd.

She had just picked up dinner for herself and her cat: a cheesesteak from nearby Paolo's Pizza and a tin from the corner bodega. Before turning in, she swung by her neighbor Louis Backe's pad to check on Greta, his dachshund, whom she watches when Backe's out of town.

As she was leaving, she saw Todd standing in the house's foyer. She froze, recognizing him from their encounter.

He kicked open the door and attacked her.

She awoke an hour later in a pool of her own blood, and crawled on her hands and knees into the kitchen, where she dialed 9-1-1.

Later, after a few CAT scans, doctors at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital told her she had bleeding in her brain. Her eyes were so bruised, they had swollen shut. Her nose was broken, as was the orbital bone around her right eye.

Weeks later, she still shows signs of her ordeal - her right eye remains swollen shut, and she gets dizzy if she stands up too quickly. The heavy bruising to the back of her head - police told her Todd must have punched her after she passed out - prevents her from getting a good night's sleep.

But her spirit remains strong.

"I still love this area. I'm not moving," she said. "There's no part of the city that's going to be safer than another, and this could have happened anywhere."

She has one more thing to say:

"I just want him caught. If it wasn't me, it could have easily been someone else, and it could have ended a lot worse than it did."

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