A North Idaho man pleaded guilty Wednesday morning to killing a Spokane woman last year and dumping her body in a slough near Hauser Lake.
Patrick Neil McGhee submitted an Alford plea to voluntary manslaughter in the June 7, 2015, death of Kelly Lynne Sallee, 55, a prostitute he paid to have sex with him at his rural, wooded home 3 miles north of the lake.
McGhee, 47, accepted a plea deal that calls for him to spend at least 15 years in prison and up to 30 years in all. He also pleaded guilty to destruction of evidence of the crime. An Alford plea is a guilty plea without an admission of guilt but with an acknowledgment that there is enough information to convict.
First District Judge Cynthia Meyer will sentence McGhee on May 4.
Sallee’s former longtime boyfriend, Arthur Levin, was in the courtroom for the plea change. Around his neck he wore a colorful pendant made from a portion of Sallee’s ashes.
“She was a really loving person. She just cared about people,” Levin said after the hearing.
He recalled a time Sallee, who lived on Social Security, gave money to a homeless man. “She didn’t have the money, but that’s how Kelly was.”
On June 11, 2015, a passer-by found Sallee’s naked and bound body partially submerged in a slough west of Hauser Lake Road and north of Newman Arm Road. Kootenai County sheriff’s detectives worked with the Spokane Police Department’s major crimes unit to investigate the homicide.
Investigators reviewed Sallee’s phone records and tracked her whereabouts in the days preceding her death, leading them to identify a suspect, McGhee, who worked as a welder in Airway Heights. McGhee had used Sallee’s phone to contact another prostitute after Sallee’s death, investigators determined.
Detectives interviewed McGhee on June 24 at the Spokane police headquarters. In affidavits they said he lied repeatedly, backtracking and changing his story, before telling them Sallee had died at his house on North Right Fork Road and he left her body in a marshy spot near the lake.
McGhee was arrested at that time for failing to notify authorities of a death. Three days later he was also charged with second-degree murder, destruction of evidence, procuring a prostitute and interstate trafficking in prostitution.
McGhee told detectives he picked up Sallee on East Sprague Avenue in Spokane and took her to his home in Hauser, where he paid her $30 for sex. He claims Sallee asked him to choke her with an electrical cord around her neck during intercourse, and he did. She then passed out and died, he said.
The medical examiner concluded Sallee died of homicidal violence, noting a ligature mark on her neck, a blunt-force laceration on her head, a broken nose, fractured ribs and other injuries. But the autopsy did not reveal exactly what killed Sallee.
McGhee told police that after realizing Sallee was dead, he bound her arms and legs and cleansed her lower torso with a bleach solution to remove traces of his semen. He put her body in his red Dodge truck and drove 5 miles to the slough on the west side of Hauser Lake, near the state line.
McGhee said he wore blue shorts and camouflage hiking boots when he disposed of the body, and police seized clothing from the home matching those descriptions. He also told investigators he took her phone, clothes and personal belongings to a waste transfer station near Post Falls.
Detectives spoke with other prostitutes who described McGhee as “very creepy” and said they were wary of him.
“I won’t be really happy until he’s dead,” Levin said of the potential sentence for McGhee. “If you take a life, you should lose your life.”
“This is what I have left of Kelly,” he said, looking at his pendant.
Sallee grew up in Shelton, Washington, near Olympia. Levin said he hired her as a host when he was a chef at Luigi’s Italian Restaurant in Spokane, and the two dated for about 12 years. Her brother died a couple of years ago and Sallee got into illegal drugs, Levin said.
Levin said he appreciates how diligently detectives and Kootenai County prosecutors pursued the case. “They worked this case like Kelly was family,” he said.
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