The suspect arrested for the assault of a woman along the Centennial Trail near Mission Park Thursday evening may be connected to the May 3 murder of Sharlotte McGill.
A woman walking on Centennial Trail near Mission Park Thursday evening was severely beaten by a 17-year-old black male, identified as Avondre Graham in charging documents, who tried to flee by swimming across the Spokane River.
According to Spokane police, Graham approached the woman. who was walking along the trail. and starting asking her some questions. Then he started to beat the woman on the face and head, leaving injuries that would later require stitches.
During the assault Graham also took the woman's cell phone.
The woman started screaming, and a man working at a nearby assisted living home -- Josh Gahl -- ran over to help. Graham took off running while the male witness chased him and called 911.
Graham ran across a train track, with Gahl still chasing him. Police arrived at the scene and approached from the other side of the tracks, blocking Graham in.
The teen jumped in the Spokane River to elude police and made it across the river, but didn't get much farther beyond the river's edge as police caught up with him as he was running through yards and jumping fences near the 1200 block of N. Madelia.
Both Gahl and the assault victim were brought to where Graham was taken into custody and both positively identified the suspect. The victim was taken to Sacred Heart Medical Center for treatment of her injuries. She was released Thursday evening.
Graham, who admitted to police that he punched the woman in the face and about her head several times was arrested on a 1st degree robbery and 2nd degree assault charge and was booked into the Spokane County Juvenile Detention Center.
Because he is a minor his name was initially not released; it was released after it was decided he would be prosecuted as an adult.
Early Friday afternoon the Spokane Police Department reported that detectives believe Graham is somehow connected to the murder of Sharlotte McGill.
Detectives say the description of the suspect in the Centennial Trail attack is similar to the description McGill gave of her attacker, specifically that he has a bad eye, and that he lives in the vicinity of where McGill was killed.
Additionally, Graham was wearing a black hoodie, an article of clothing that Sharlotte McGill also said her attacker had been wearing. The teen ditched the hoodie as he was swimming across the Spokane River.
McGill was stabbed as she was taking her dog on a morning walk on May 3 on Tuffy's Trail adjacent to the Spokane River. She was stabbed to death near the intersection of South Riverton Avenue and Magnolia, a short ways upriver from where the woman was assaulted on the Centennial Trail Thursday night.
The first person to be assaulted along the Spokane River in the vicinity of Mission Park was Sherrie Wright, who was assaulted as she walked her dog along Tuffy's Trail on March 1.
She said her attacker hit her on the side of the face; she doesn't recall what happened next as she hit her head and passed out.
Wright was attacked in the same area McGill was attacked two months later. In her case, Wright also said she had been attacked by a black male.
The McGill homicide is one of the few remaining unsolved cases detectives across Spokane County are currently investigating.
Spokane Major Crimes detectives are continuing to hunt for Kala Williams' killer; her body was found on Mother's Day in a wooded area of southwest Spokane. They are also looking for the person of interest in the killing of Dan Haney, who was shot and killed early Thursday morning at the Days Inn near downtown Spokane.
Previously detectives arrested Dan Arteaga in August for the New Years Day murder of his estranged girlfriend Kim Schmidt in Spokane, Spokane Valley police arrested Shane Smith for the murder of Warren Flinn in May, and Spokane County Sheriff's deputies arrested Clay Starbuck back in February for the December 3 killing of his ex-wife Chanin.