May 5, 2012 in City
Police hunt for leads
With investigation in high gear, stabbing victim’s daughter urges love
The daughter of the woman brutally stabbed to death along the Spokane River on Thursday has a message for the killer:
“I … feel really sorry for whoever did this,” said Billie McKinney just a day after her mother, Sharlotte McGill, was stabbed multiple times in what police believe was a random attack. “Because if they had a mother like I did … they wouldn’t have done this to anybody. I just think that everybody should just love their kids. Stop raising monsters.”
Dozens of police scoured the area for evidence and are tracking down hundreds of leads. So far, no arrests have been made, no suspects have been identified, no motive has emerged and despite a thorough search of the area, no weapon has been found.
“I don’t want this to be in vain,” said McKinney, 24. “I want this to send a message. I want everybody to just love each other a little more. That’s what she always wanted. She always wanted everyone to just be good to each other.”
McGill was walking her dog on a trail along the Spokane River near the 1800 block of East South Riverton Avenue when a man jumped out of the bushes and stabbed her in the chest multiple times. McGill staggered up the embankment, screaming for help. Her daughter and a neighbor came to her side just before she lost consciousness.
“She passed in my arms,” McKinney said. “I am forever, forever blessed and grateful that I could be there with her. She couldn’t say anything to me, but I told her that I loved her and that I was there with her and that she wasn’t alone.”
McGill, who moved to Spokane from the Wenatchee area about a year ago, was stabbed multiple times in her upper body around 8 a.m. in the residential area. The Spokane County Medical Examiner said Friday her official cause of death was multiple stab wounds. The manner of death: homicide.
“The police have been wonderful,” McKinney said. “I know they’re doing everything they can right now. They take this very seriously. They’ve been very patient. They’ve been very thorough.”
McKinney said Friday that her mother, who worked for Costco for 13 years, was a free spirit, a happy woman whom many people admired.
“She was everybody’s mom,” McKinney said. “She was a lot of people’s inspiration, a lot of people’s strength. Happy all the time. Laughed every day. Made everybody smile.”
Her neighbors at the Riverpark Apartments, where McGill and McKinney moved about a week ago, milled around a makeshift memorial Friday, trying in vain to make sense of the brutal slaying. One neighbor constructed a cross bearing McGill’s name, and several others placed candles and flowers at its foot and prayed.
Meanwhile, in a news conference Friday afternoon, Spokane Police Department interim Chief Scott Stephens said detectives are following every possible angle to find and apprehend McGill’s killer.
“The random nature of this crime is very troubling,” Stephens said. “That doesn’t mean people need to lock themselves up in their houses and not leave.” But, he said, people should be vigilant and report any suspicious behavior they see.
“People need to call us,” he said. “Trust your instincts.”
A homeless man was detained Thursday by officers near the scene, but he was released after questioning because police did not have probable cause to arrest him. However, court documents show that detectives first confiscated his dark clothing to test what appeared to be unspecified stains on them. He also had what appeared to be a blood spot on one of his shoes, according to a search warrant affidavit, and the man agreed to provide a DNA sample.
The Spokesman-Review is not naming him because police have not identified him as a suspect.
He told police he had stayed at Truth Ministries, left there about 7 a.m. Thursday, and walked north to North Napa Street and East Mission Avenue, according to the search warrant. He bought a beer and was panhandling on the north side of Mission just before he was stopped, he told police.
He denied being in the area where McGill was attacked and said he had no knowledge of it, according to the search warrant. Witnesses told police he matched the description of a man seen running from the area shortly after the attack, though he is white with a dark complexion, not black, as witnesses reported.
Stephens said that while investigators await the results of forensic testing from the Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory, they are continuing to pursue all potential leads from residents and other police agencies. Detectives are being pulled from lower-priority cases to work this case whenever possible.
“I can’t recall the last time we had a case like this,” Stephens said of the apparently random attack. “These are extremely rare. The police are working extra hard on this case.”
Area residents told reporters Friday they have heard of other attacks occurring in the same area, but Stephens said there hadn’t been any “of this nature.”
“There hasn’t been a pattern,” he said.
As far as police know, the killer didn’t take anything from McGill.
“At this point we have no idea what would have compelled this person to do this,” he said. “At this point we just have no concept of motive.”
The slaying has sent ripples of fear through the community and left McGill’s friends and family wondering why.
“She loved everybody,” McKinney said of her mother, who was fond of animals, music, gardening and flowers. “I think she loved everybody too much. I think she was so trusting of everyone, and she honestly thought she could see the good in everybody and that everybody had the potential for good.”
McKinney said she’s angry, but “I have my mother’s strength.”
“I don’t want anybody to take any of their loved ones for granted,” she said. “Because you never know.”