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That night felt just like any other. Shelly Monahan was wrapping up her shift, delivering news to folks in Spokane on KJRB 790. It was known as the “Hot Talk” station in town.
Sunshine Shelly, as she was known on the air, was just 20 years old and working the late shift to “pay her dues,” as they say in the business.
The radio station was located in a single-story building at the south end of Spokane’s South Hill Neighborhood. It was a small, unassuming place, aside from the station’s call letters that were proudly displayed above the entrance.
When Shelly walked out late that night, in the fall of 1979, she headed toward her car, which was parked in the lot right outside the front door.
She was just steps away from slipping into the driver’s seat, when suddenly she was grabbed from behind. Before she could even take stock of what was happening the assailant started hitting her, beating her viciously in the face with his fists.
At one point, he even stuck his fist in her mouth and Shelly reacted on instinct, chomping down on his hand and drawing blood. The man cried out and threated to kill her while continuing his brutal attack.
Shelly was beaten nearly unconscious and she was raped. When it was finally over, the man tried to have a conversation with the woman he’d just violated so viscously, asking how her career was going and what she planned to do next.
But, Shelly was dazed… shocked… unable to speak. She remained silent as the man slunk off into the night.
Sunshine Shelly was just one of dozens of women who were sexually assaulted in Spokane’s South Hill neighborhood in the late 70’s and early 80’s. It wasn’t until a new investigator came on the scene with a fresh set of eyes that they noticed the similarities in the attacks.
But, getting the perpetrator convicted would be just the first battle in a war that would be fought in the courts for decades.
And, even today, there are some who say the South Hill Rapist could be released, free to once again torment the town that he had terrorized all those years ago.
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