Rochester Police identified the woman whose body was found stuffed inside a city garbage tote Friday. They say it is that of 27-year-old Toccara Harmon of Rochester. Police said she had a prior arrest record for prostitution.
Investigators said Harmon's body was inside a trash bin for less than 24 hours before being discovered. The trash bin was found behind a restaurant on Lyell Avenue and Carroll Alley.
"The cause of death is asphyxiation related,” said Rochester Police Chief Jim Sheppard. “We have no additional details on that. At this point our investigation continues, and hopefully we'll reach a successful conclusion."
Toccara was well known to some in the Lyell Avenue neighborhood where her body was found. They said she went by the name of Savannah, and had worked the streets for about five years.
Wendy Beasley said she tried to help Toccara get clean.
"She's more like a daughter figure to me. She calls me Mom,” Beasley said. “The things we went through, the things that we go through, it's a hard life. Drug addict, trying to get clean. And I'm speaking because I'm one of them as well."
Beasley says she looks after the women who work the streets. She says Harmon was the last girl she saw working the area of Lyell near Carroll Alley before police arrived just after noon on Friday.
"We all do things due to the drugs, but we're not those type of bad people that we're assumed to be,” Beasley explained. “For someone to take someone else’s life, behind a drug affiliated or whatever, it's uncalled for."
Beasley says that Toccara had a couple of children and that her mother lives in Buffalo.
Others in the neighborhood where Harmon was found say they are angry that she died such a violent death.
"Even if it is a hooker, she ain't doing nothing but trying to make money to eat just like anybody else," said Tom Brad.
Police say they continue searching for a suspect.