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Ties between assault and homicide probed

UPDATED: Fri., Sept. 14, 2012, 3:50 p.m.

Sharlotte McGill (Courtesy Photo / The Spokesman-Review)
Sharlotte McGill (Courtesy Photo / The Spokesman-Review)

A teenager arrested Thursday in an assault along the Centennial Trail may be connected to an unsolved May 3 homicide, police said Friday.

The teen, identified as 17-year-old Avondre C. Graham, resembles the description of the knife-wielding attacker who killed Sharlotte McGill, 55, along a river trail near her home four months ago. Other aspects of yesterday’s attack also give detectives reason to suspect connections, police said without elaborating.

Among other things, though, it appears the teen lives in the same apartment complex that McGill did, authorities confirm, and it would mark the first significant break in a case that has left many Centennial Trail users terrified.

In yesterday’s attack, a woman in her 40s was beaten with a mallet while walking along the trail near Mission Park by an assailant who fled into the Spokane River. Police apprehended Graham, who matched the description of the park attacker, near the 1200 block of North Madelia Street on the other side of the river. The suspect was booked into juvenile detention on suspicion of first-degree robbery and second-degree assault.

Prosecutors said today they will try charging him as an adult.

Police said Graham matches the description provided by Sharlotte McGill before she died of multiple stab wounds on May 3.

Detectives are hopeful this arrest will help solve McGill’s slaying, Jennifer DeRuwe, a police spokeswoman said Friday.

Police believe there are additional people who have useful information about the McGill homicide and are encouraging them to come forward. A reward has been offered for any information leading to the arrest of the killer.

McGill, 55, was walking her dog on a path along the Spokane River on May 3 when an attacker jumped out of the bushes and stabbed her in the upper body several times around 8 a.m. in the area of 1800 E. South Riverton Ave. Before she died, McGill described her attacker as a black male in his 30s with a “bad eye.”

This story is developing and will be updated as additional information is available