Spokane’s serial murders have prompted a group of social service providers to seek money for a new women’s shelter.
The Coalition for Women on the Street needs $3 million to start the shelter, which would take in women over age 18.
“Women on the streets are not secured and are being murdered,” said Health Officer Dr. Kim Thorburn of the Spokane Regional Health District.
“We are here for prevention … We need to find a means of prevention,” said Thorburn, a coalition member.
The coalition wants to build a downtown shelter by 1999 that would provide temporary safety and services to women using drugs and living on the streets.
The group includes members of the health and police departments as well as social workers and concerned citizens.
The hope is that once in the shelter, women would learn about services that could help them rebuild their lives.
Substantial private donations would allow the shelter to operate without government funding, coalition members said.
“The private community has an obligation and a responsibility here,” said coalition member Stuart Evey. “We must help them.”
The proposed shelter is in response to the ongoing joint city/county task force investigating 20 unsolved killings since 1984. Nineteen of those victims were women, many with ties to drugs and prostitution.
Six of those women - Darla Sue Scott, Shawn Johnson, Laurie Ann Wason, Shawn McClenahan, Sunny Oster, and Melinda Mercer of Tacoma - have been linked to the same killer or killers.
“This is a real need in this community,” said Holy Names Sister Cathy Beckley, a coalition member. “Society is judged by how it deals with its most vulnerable.
“We need everyone’s help.”
, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: To help Anyone interested in making a donation can call the Coalition for Women on the Street at 324-1549.