A woman whose attack last week helped Spokane Police catch a suspected killer says murder victim Sharlotte McGill is a hero, because she gave a description of her attacker in her last breaths.
Debbie Watkins was walking on the Centennial Trail near Mission Park last week when she was attacked by a man who punched her in the face and head. Josh Gahl was working nearby at Maplewood Gardens and saw the attack. He called 911, then chased the attacker. The attacker, later identified by police as 17-year old Avondre Graham, tried to escape by jumping into the river. Police arrested him and Watkins and Gahl identified him as the attacker.
Thursday, Spokane Police announced their belief that Graham is also responsible for two other attacks in the area, including an attack on a Gonzaga student August 30th and the murder of 55-year old Sharlotte McGill in May.
McGill's murder had stumped police for months. With no witnesses, the only thing they had to go on was McGill's dying words. She told police she was attacked by a "black man with a bad eye." Graham matches that description; he also lives in the same apartment complex where McGill lived before her death.
"Ultimately, the credit goes to Sharlotte." Watkins said Friday in her first on-camera interview since the attack. "She was able to give a description. That's why we're where we're at and the guy's caught."
Watkins still bears the black eye she received in the attack. She had six stitches in her head and a lot of bumps and bruises.
Friday, Watkins also got to meet the other hero in the case. She and Josh Gahl embraced and she thanked him for his brave actions.
"He's amazing," Watkins said. "I just said, 'I think you're my guardian angel and I'm grateful to you. I'm grateful you were at this place at this time.'"
Spokane Police echoed their support of Gahl's actions that helped them solve one of the most prolific murder cases in years.
"He doesn't know what she's been assaulted with specifically, yet he disregards his own safety to follow this person," said Major Craig Meidl. "Then he gives us the time we need to get there and take him into custody. He's a hero."
Graham is being held in juvenile detention but faces charges as an adult.