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Valley homicide victim died after possible struggle

A Spokane man died late Monday or early Tuesday after a possible struggle outside a Spokane Valley liquor store.

Dean Leroy Ray, 46, was found face-down on the sidewalk at a newer strip mall at 5004 E. Sprague Ave., said Spokane Sheriff’s Sgt. Dave Reagan.

His body was found about 7:40 a.m. by a delivery driver who arrived to unload supplies for the liquor store, Reagan said.

Ray used a wheelchair, which was sitting about 12 feet from the body.

His coat was found part-way between the wheelchair and his body, raising questions about how the clothing came off. Two other objects lay on the sidewalk near the coat, but Reagan didn’t identify them.

In addition, scuff marks were found near the wheelchair, indicating a possible struggle, Reagan said.

Investigators learned from a witness that Ray was pushed in his chair to the strip mall about 6:45 p.m. Monday and was seen alive as late as 11:30 p.m.

Earlier on Monday, he had been released from the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Spokane.

Detectives are seeking information on Ray’s activities on Monday in an effort to piece together what might have occurred and to search for a suspect or suspects.

“Ray had lived at several addresses in and around Spokane, but despite his frequent moves, detectives did not classify him as a transient,” Reagan said in a prepared statement.

The investigators are seeking to interview the man who pushed the victim to the mall to learn about events leading up to Tuesday’s discovery, Reagan said.

Detectives from the Spokane Valley Police Department and Spokane County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene.

Officers and volunteers cordoned off the mall containing the liquor store, a cigar shop and a barber shop, in an effort to find clues. Shopkeepers were allowed back into their businesses this afternoon.

Kelly Berger, who cuts hair at The Man Shop in the strip mall, said two employees there reported seeing Ray outside about 7 p.m.

An autopsy was conducted Tuesday afternoon.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Mike Prager can be reached at (509) 459-5454 or by email at

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