A woman walking her dog along the Spokane River Thursday morning was fatally stabbed in what appears to have been a random attack.
The victim’s daughter identified the woman as 55-year-old Sharlotte McGill. McGill suffered multiple stab wounds to her upper body shortly after 8 a.m. in the area of 1800 E. South Riverton Avenue and was rushed to a local hospital, according to the Spokane Police Department. Police reported around 2 p.m. that she had died.
The attacker remained on the loose Thursday night. Police have not identified a suspect or a motive.
McGill’s daughter, Billie McKinney, logged on to her mother’s Facebook account Thursday evening and posted a message to friends and family.
“I want to thank everyone for their support,” she wrote. “My mother deeply loved you all in her special way. Thank you everyone for all the fun she had with you, and please just be good to everyone, love with all your heart, and remember her with a smile. Much love.”
In an afternoon news conference, interim Spokane police Chief Scott Stephens said “anything that can be done will be done” to find the attacker, but police have no suspects at this time. He asked that anyone with information call the police department.
Thursday morning, a man was detained for questioning, but he was released and is not considered a suspect, police said.
“We’ve got everything we have on this,” Capt. Brad Arleth said, explaining the department brought in extra officers from multiple units to scour the area and track down leads. Police were alerted about 8:11 a.m. by callers to 911 reporting a woman screaming in the area of Magnolia Street and South Riverton Avenue. A nearby resident found McGill with multiple stab wounds, police said, and began administering CPR while waiting for emergency personnel to arrive.
Another neighbor, Korey Shippy, whose back balcony faces the river, said he was inside when he heard McGill screaming “help me, help me, somebody … help me.”
“I ran down and got her daughter and said ‘Your mom’s been stabbed,’ ” he said, explaining McGill lived in his apartment complex. The two ran outside and found McGill bleeding heavily.
“She still had the leash in her hand, and the dog wouldn’t leave her side,” he said. “She said, ‘Can you breathe for me? Can you breathe for me? I can’t breathe.’ ”
She collapsed shortly after.
McGill had moved into the nearby Riverpark Apartments less than a week ago, Shippy said.
“She was a nice lady,” he said, adding the area has been plagued with crimes such as car prowling, vandalism and theft.
Others told officers they saw a man running from the area and provided brief descriptions. A detective responding to the area saw a man matching the description who became evasive after realizing the investigator was looking at him, Arleth said. The man was detained for questioning but later released.
Meanwhile, officers and paramedics tending to McGill were able to get a brief description of the attacker, who she said jumped from behind some bushes, police said.
Witnesses said the person seen running from the area was a black male in his early to mid-30s, wearing black pants and black hooded jacket. Witnesses said he had a “crazy eye.”
“We certainly understand that this is a horrific crime, and it’s going to be high priority for the police department,” Stephens said. In the meantime, he said, residents shouldn’t live in fear but should “be aware of your surroundings.”
The attack occurred in a predominantly residential area on a popular makeshift trail along the south bank of the Spokane River frequently used by McGill.
The Spokane County medical examiner is expected to perform an autopsy today.
According to her Facebook page, McGill worked at Costco and went to Okanogan Junior-Senior High School. She described herself as “down to earth, a lover of life. Happy Camper. Hard Worker. I have 4 pets and a daughter and I love them dearly.”
A 2010 post by McGill read: “Every day I have the chance to make great things happen in my life. Every day is exactly what I make it. And you are as I see you. And what you say to me is how I perceive it. Life is Grand I love all the moments of it.”