Murder Suspect Charged: Spokane Police Speak Investigation - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Murder Suspect Charged: Spokane Police Speak About 4-Month Investigation

SPOKANE, Wash – It's one of Spokane's highest profile murders in decades.  When Sharlotte McGill was randomly, brutally stabbed to death while walking her dog along a trail outside her Spokane apartment, it shocked the community – and neighbors, who became afraid to walk near their home.

Since May, the murder investigation has remained unsolved, with no public leads in the case. 

But Thursday, Spokane Police charged Avondre Graham, 17, with her murder. 

Police tell KHQ it was his arrest on assault and robbery charges one week ago that was the breakthrough in the case.  Graham is charged with attacking another random woman on Centennial Trail, and stealing her cell phone.   

Police say he's also responsible for the August 29th assault of a third victim – a Gongaza University student who was running in the same area. 

"Clearly the other assaults show that Avondre Graham had no intention of stopping, were he not in custody, it's very likely we would have more victims, and possibly more homicide victims as well," Major Craig Meidl of the Spokane Police Department told KHQ. 

All three women were attacked in broad daylight, in the same manner, in the same neighborhood, and by a man matching the same description.  But Graham wasn't caught until a maintenance worker who heard the victim's screams chased him down Thursday. 

"The bystander who chased down Graham is a hero, he's clearly a hero, here he is he sees a woman assaulted, he sees a rather large person that was involved in it, he sees blood on her, the guy takes off, he doesn't know what she was assaulted with specifically, but he disregards his own safety to follow this person and phone the police," Maj. Meidl said.  "He's a hero."

It was those recent attacks that were the turning point in the investigation.

But police say witnesses deliberately lied to them in the days and weeks following McGill's murder throwing them off course; had it not been for that, they likely would have made an arrest much sooner.

"When the people we rely on mislead us intentionally, that causes a delay, that requires us to do more legwork, more footwork, more follow up, now instead of just proving this occurred we have to disprove what they've said, so if we had totally truthful and forthcoming witnesses, we feel this would have been solved much quicker," he added. 

Spokane Police say Graham was "clearly preying on women" in the area, but as for a motive, so far they have none. 

"At this time it seems like they were all random attacks," Maj. Meidl added. 

Police tell KHQ Graham was, in fact, interviewed in the days following McGill's murder back in May, and police say he never fell off their radar, but what they needed was probable cause.  For months, the investigation continued as evidence taken from the scene was processed at the state crime lab in Cheney. 

Since his arrest, Graham has spoken with police. 

"Graham did provide an interview for detectives concerning his involvement in the McGill homicide," Maj. Meidl added. 

Police can't say what Graham told them, or if DNA or other evidence collected at the scene matches up.  But they will say detectives are "very confident" they have their guy; the man police believe stabbed to death a stranger for no apparent reason at all. 

"To have someone do that and in this community, it's just scary to have someone like that on the street, if they'll do things like that to a woman, there's no telling what they'll do," he said.

The new charges of murder and assault just went to the prosecutor's office this morning, and Graham could make his first court appearance on those charges as early as Friday. 

Police say because of his age Graham will remain in juvenile jail isolated from other inmates, but he will be tried as an adult.

 

 

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