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Victim named in book: ‘Night smells like rape’

September 20, 1983

Editor’s note: Kevin Coe has not been charged in the rape of Shelly Monahan. She did not identify Coe in a police lineup. Her comments are included here because she figures prominently in the book, “Son: A Psychopath and His Victims,” and because Monahan hopes she can be an inspiration to other victims of rape.

By Rick Bonino
The Spokesman-Review

As a radio disc jockey, she was known as “Sunshine Shelly,” bringing her faithful listeners a touch of “sunshine in the nighttime.”

But the darkness was different for Shelly Monahan after a Sunday night in September 1979. “Night smells like rape,” she told author Jack Olsen.

On that night, Monahan was brutally beaten and raped as she walked to her car after another evening shift at a South Side radio station.

She was one of several rape victims who told her story to Olsen for his book about Kevin Coe and Spokane’s South Hill rapes, “Son: A Psychopath and His Victims.”

She was the only one who allowed Olsen to use her real name in the book. She hopes it will help others.

“People reading the book will say, ‘Hey, she made it through it.’” Monahan, now a popular weatherwoman on a Spokane television station, said in an interview.

“Some women have very serious psychological problems getting over rape,” she says. “They take it personally. They think there’s something wrong with them. But it’s not sex. It’s not making love. You’re the victim of a crime. …

“It’s a bummer. It’s a bad thing. It’s a tremendous invasion of privacy. But you can make it through it.”

It wasn’t easy for Monahan. The nightmares continued long after the rape. They started again about three weeks ago, she says, when she knew the book was coming out.

“It was really heavily on my mind,” she explains. “I had four or five good ones.”

The dreams take her back to a night that was the beginning of the end of her first marriage. Shortly after the rape, she and her husband broke up. “He said he could not handle the fact that somebody else had touched his property,” Monahan says.

But while she lost a husband, she found a friend – County Sheriff’s Sgt. Danny O’Dell, the detective who worked on the case.

“I mean this from the bottom of my heart,” Monahan says. “My husband left me at the time I needed him most. I would probably have had a nervous breakdown if Danny O’Dell hadn’t been there.”

Sometimes it was little things, like O’Dell calling Monahan’s woman landlord to escort her to her apartment after he drove her home the night of the rape. He knew she wouldn’t want a strange man walking her in.

“That’s why I get so upset with some of the women from NOW (the National Organization for Women) when they say the police aren’t sympathetic,” says Monahan. “Unless they’ve been raped themselves, they don’t know.”

With O’Dell’s help, she says, she started giving talks about rape at area schools and women’s groups. “It’s been great therapy for me,” she says.

“The biggest question I get is, ‘How do I know if I did the right thing (during a rape)?’ Do you fight? Do you talk or not? The police feel, if you make it out alive, you did the right thing.”

Her advice can be strong: “Women who go out jogging at night by themselves should be shot,” Monahan says, then catches herself. “I mean, if I had the time, I would stop every time I saw a girl out hitchhiking, out jogging by herself, and say, ‘Please, let me tell you a story. …’”

But the story doesn’t really have an end. Monahan never got a good look at her attacker’s face. Hypnosis didn’t help. She never picked anyone out of a police lineup, including Coe.

People interviewed by Olsen said that Coe, himself a former DJ, was intrigued by Shelly.

“Let me put it this way – I hope I was Coe,” Monahan says. “That way, I know he’s locked up.”

Whoever it was telephoned her a few weeks after the rape, threatening to kill her for gong to the police. “If it wasn’t Coe, I have to be scared again,” she says, “and I don’t want to be scared. I was scared for four years. …”

The smell of night was enough to do it. “Night does smell different from day, especially in the autumn,” Monahan says. “It probably sounds stupid to most people, but all I associate it with is that night.”

But with the help of her fiancée, a musical booking agent, she’s winning. First, she says, they would walk together at night in a nearby field. After a while, he could stay on the porch while she walked. Now, he can wait in the house – and she can breathe without fear.

“After four years,” she says, “I’m just getting to the point where I feel good again.”

Sunday, November 20, 1983

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From → KREM

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