Police seek Samaritan in unsolved trail assault


Herald Writer

EVERETT — Had a jogger and his dog not made a timely appearance on the Interurban Trail, Everett police would have been investigating the murder of a 14-year-old girl instead of an assault.

Police are eager to talk to the jogger, who hasn’t come forward, Detective Gary Fortin said. The man is not a suspect, but investigators hope he saw something that could help them solve the case in which the Cascade High School freshman nearly died Oct. 9.

"He could have seen something that to him meant nothing, but to us would mean a whole bunch," Fortin said.

He asked the jogger to call him at 425-257-8504.

The attack occurred shortly after 6 a.m. on the trail just north of 112th Street SE as the girl walked to a friend’s house on her way to school. She was stabbed repeatedly and choked, police said.

The girl remains in satisfactory condition at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. She could be released this week if doctors can lower her fever and she regains her appetite, Fortin said.

"She’s a tough little girl," he said. "She seems to be handling it as well as you can possibly imagine. The fact that she can recall details of her attacker is a sign of how she’s doing."

Still, her recovery is going to be a long process, Fortin said.

Her spirits have been bolstered by the school and community’s response.

"Her room was just wall-to-wall banners and posters from students, teachers, the community," he said. "She has had a tremendous amount of public support."

The attacker may have heard the jogger and his dog approaching. He suddenly fled north along the trail, Fortin said. Moments later, the jogger appeared and went to the girl, telling her to hold on and he’d get help. He and his medium-sized, brown dog with lighter spots then disappeared.

Another man came along, saw the girl and ran to his apartment to call 911 before returning to stay with the girl and direct medics, Fortin said.

In the hospital, the girl described her attack to detectives.

She was walking down the trail — the first time she’d gone that way before school — when "this person appeared," Fortin said.

"He followed her," the detective said. "She kept looking back at him."

After he’d followed her for several hundred feet, he suddenly grabbed her from behind, Fortin said.

"It does not sound like a first-time crime," Fortin said. "One of the things that makes this assault unusual is that without any conversation at all, this person went right to a lethal assault. Percentage-wise, it’s somewhat rare."

The "blitz-type" attack came so fast that the girl had no opportunity to scream, Fortin said.

The man said little or nothing during the attack, which lasted only a few minutes, he said.

It appears the attacker did not sexually assault or rob her, he said.

"I’m thoroughly convinced, as is everyone else, that if he hadn’t been interrupted, this would have been a homicide. If not for the medical care at the scene and her strong constitution, she’d have died," he said.

Police have finished searching near the trail and found no weapon.

Detectives believe the knife used in the attack was a butcher- or kitchen-type knife, Fortin said.

"It was a knife with a fairly substantial blade" and a black handle, he said.

The girl remembered the attack and her assailant, but couldn’t recall the specific lines of his face, so the police artist couldn’t age the drawing, which looks like a man in his 20s, Fortin said.

"She was on the verge of tears when the final composite was put to her," he said. "We feel that all the physical characteristics are accurate."

Two transient men who were camping near the trail and were questioned by police are not suspects, Fortin said.

Police have received a steady flow of tips, from as far away as Arkansas.

The girl described her attacker as in his 30s with grayish, "spiky" hair.

Police described the assailant as a white man, 40 to 50 years old, about 6 feet 1 inch tall, 160 to 180 pounds, with a light complexion. His hair, a dirty blond fading to gray, was long, stringy and unkempt, and he had a couple of days’ growth of beard. He appeared unbathed, had bad breath, and wore a long-sleeved, red plaid shirt with a T-shirt underneath, blue jeans with a hole in the left knee and dark-colored athletic shoes. He also has a blue cross tattooed on the skin of his left hand between the index finger and thumb, Fortin said.

Detectives ask anyone with information about the incident to call the Everett Police Department tip line at 425-257-8450.

Talk to us

More in Local News

A few weeks before what could be her final professional UFC fight, Miranda Granger grimaces as she pushes a 45-pound plate up her driveway on Tuesday, July 12, 2022, in Lake Stevens, Washington. Her daughter Austin, age 11 months, is strapped to her back. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Daily Herald staff wins 5 honors at annual journalism competition

The Herald got one first-place win and four runner-up spots in SPJ’s Northwest Excellence in Journalism contest.

Panelists from different areas of mental health care speak at the Herald Forum about mental health care on Wednesday, May 31, 2023 in Snohomish, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
At panel, mental health experts brainstorm answers to staff shortages

Workforce shortages, insurance coverage and crisis response were in focus at the Snohomish forum hosted by The Daily Herald.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Snohomish in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Report of downed hot air balloon turns up farmer’s tarp near Snohomish

Two 911 callers believed they saw a hot air balloon crash, leading to a major search-and-rescue response. It was a false alarm.

People gather for a color throw at Stanwood and Camano’s first-ever Pride celebration on Saturday, June 4, 2022. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
‘We’ve at least come a little ways’: Snohomish to host first Pride event

A 10 a.m. parade on First Street will be followed by a pop-up market with 60 vendors, a downtown wine walk, queer cabaret and more.

The site of a former 76 gas station and a handful of century old buildings will be the location for new apartments buildings at the corner of Pacific and Rucker on Wednesday, May 31, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Old gas station demolished for apartments in downtown Everett

A 200-unit apartment complex between three and seven stories tall is proposed at Pacific and Rucker avenues.

Kamiak High School is pictured Friday, July 8, 2022, in Mukilteo, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Kamiak football coach fired amid sexual misconduct investigation

Police believe Julian Willis, 34, sexually abused the student in portable classrooms on Kamiak High School’s campus.

Police: Marysville man fist-bumped cop, exposing tattoos of wanted robber

The suspect told police he robbed three stores to pay off a drug debt. He’d just been released from federal prison for another armed robbery.

Cat killed, 9 people displaced after duplex fire in Everett

None of the people were injured in the fire reported around 1:15 a.m. in the 11500 block of Meridian Avenue S.

Gabriela Kelpe at her home on Friday, June 2, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Long waits, big bills: Everett mom’s painful search for dental care

When she learned she needed a root canal, Gabriela Kelpe read an infection could go to her unborn baby. But she struggled to get affordable care.

Most Read