A stranger brutally attacked a 73-year-old woman in her West Central home Thursday, raping her and slashing her throat.
The victim, who lives alone on the 1700 block of West Gardner, was released from the hospital Friday and is staying with family members.
“I truly believe he intended to kill her,” Spokane Police Detective Jeff Holy said Friday. “The injuries she sustained and the amount of force he used certainly points to that.”
A knife wound above the woman’s eye cut to the bone and a gash on the back of her head also required stitches.
Her age may have saved her life, Holy said.
The loose skin under her chin and along her neck stopped the knife from going very deep.
“It was the emergency room doctor’s opinion that that loose skin, which is common on elderly people, saved her life,” Holy said.
At an unusual news conference Friday, police urged people not to panic because of the attack.
“People when they hear about this are going to get all nervous and think there’s some serial rapist skulking around town,” Holy said. “But this is not the norm. Incidents like this are extremely rare.”
Police said the attack was highly unusual not only because of the level of violence involved, but because it was an attack by a stranger.
The victim told police a man knocked on her door shortly before 10 p.m. and asked for someone whose name she didn’t recall.
Without opening her locked door, the woman told the stranger she didn’t know the person. He then asked if he could come inside and she opened the door, police said.
The man shoved the woman back into the kitchen, where he slammed her into a cabinet, causing a cut on the back of her head. He grabbed a small knife, slashing across her throat and forehead above her eye, police said.
The woman told police he forced her into the bedroom, raped her and took several bills from her purse before leaving the apartment just after 11 p.m.
Police used the attack to stress that residents shouldn’t open their doors to strangers.
Sandy Richards, the department’s crime prevention director, said the most important safety tip residents should remember is not to open their doors to anyone they do not know under any circumstances.
“I’ve said that plenty of times before, but a case like this should remind people again,” Richards said. “Question every stranger who comes to your door. Let them know you’re inside, don’t say you’re alone, and don’t let them in. Just don’t.”
The assailant was described as dark-skinned, possibly Puerto Rican, Samoan or a light-complected black male in his 30s. He was about 6 feet tall, weighed 165-175 pounds, had high cheekbones and a receding hairline. He wore dark jeans and an insulated, waist-length jacket.