Keeping Dania Diverse

Deep in the forest of Motel 6, an elusive tribe of vervets

New Times readers will remember Buettner from a July 4, 2002, New Times cover story ("Profile of a Predator"). She's the German-born grandmother who was singularly afflicted not only with a series of medical problems but with "friends" and family members who seemed to circle her prime piece of Fort Lauderdale real estate.

According to prosecutors, Paul Edwards, a tall, oily stranger from Czechoslovakia, wheedled his way into Buettner's world, taking over the operation of her motel, caring for her after she suffered two strokes in January 2001, and, oh yes, scheming to have her sign over power of attorney to him. For his efforts, Edwards now faces trial on a third-degree felony charge of exploiting the elderly. The Czech left behind a barrel of troubles for Buettner, including a document -- forged, she says -- committing her to chipping in $650,000 to Susan Cerny, mother of her son Heinrich's three kids.

While Luise Buettner's lawyer, Eric Stettin, presses for an emergency action to have the sale order rescinded, Fort Lauderdale Police Detective Randy Pelham is out to show that the document purported to be Buettner's doesn't look kosher. He has gathered writing samples for analysis by BSO experts. "If I present it to the state attorney's office as a clearly forged document," he says, "I got to think it could be overturned."

It's probably too late, though, Stettin concedes. These are issues that should have been argued two years ago -- when the beleaguered Buettner, without the assistance of a lawyer, failed to convince a judge of the forgery.

According to Stettin, when Cerny first filed the child-support settlement, Judge Leonard Fleet invited Buettner to offer proof that the document was forged. "She couldn't convince him of that," Stettin says. "It would be relitigating an issue that you already had an opportunity to litigate before the judge."

The wheels of justice roll on relentlessly.

Buettner, a small, hearty woman who used to keep the motel running single-handedly, seems resigned to being kicked out of her home. "I can't do nothing," she says in a strudel-thick German accent. "I'm very sick, very sick."

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