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Avenue House: A lot for a young woman to handle alone

         Ed Collingwood has lived across the street from Avenue House for 30 years. He has seen the teenage boys who stay there grow a bit colder and more daring over the past several months.

   In the wake of the killing of group home worker Renee Greco at the house Monday night, Collingwood wonders whether the 24-year-old woman should have been left alone with the boys.

   He recalled knocking on the door of Avenue House one Saturday morning last winter to complain about loud music coming from the group home. Greco answered.

   Collingwood said he complained about the music and Greco replied, "I tried. I can't handle them."

   "I said, "Then call the police.' She said, "Could you call them?'‚" Collingwood recalled. "That's when I had an indication that these young women they hired couldn't handle it. ... I thought I should tell someone."

   He didn't, he said, adding, "I feel kind of guilty."

   Greco's brother, as well as a close friend of the slain Buffalo woman, told The Buffalo News on Wednesday that Greco was feeling too much tension in the job and planned to quit soon.

   She was aware of the dangers, but thought she was doing something meaningful in helping to try to turn around the lives of those in her charge.

   "She handled it, but it's kind of nerve-wracking when you have between four, five or six teenage boys, some 18 or 19 years old. You never know," said Lisa Fullone, a close friend of Greco's since high school.

    Officials at New Directions Youth & Family Services have closed Avenue House as they take a closer look at what happened Monday night to try to determine whether any procedures could be improved. They also want to give the staff and residents some time to mourn Greco's death, an official with the agency said.

— Thomas J. Prohaska and Denise Jewell Gee

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Crime & Courts
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