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The end of her nightmares

February 13, 1985

By Michael Schmeltzer
The Spokesman-Review

Shelly Monahan hopes the nightmares that have haunted her since the Kevin Coe retrial began will go away now.

“Ten, 15 times a night, I wake up screaming bloody murder, wringing wet,” she said. “I go to sleep and all I do is dream about the rape.

“After the first trial, after he was sent to prison, I had pretty well laid it to rest. But this has just brought the whole thing back again.”

Monahan, weather reporter for Spokane’s KREM-TV, is closer to the “South Hill Rapist” case than most people.

She was brutally beaten and raped in September 1979.

No charges were filed in that case, but Monahan said she firmly believes Coe is the man who raped her.

In an interview Tuesday afternoon, just three hours after she learned of the verdict, Monahan said she was “very, very relieved.”

At least some form of her anxiety stemmed from threats she received after she was raped.

The rapist had told her not to report the assault to the police, Monahan said. After a news item about the incident appeared in The Spokesman-Review, a man called her at work – she was employed then at a radio station – and threatened to kill her.

The caller, Monahan recalled Tuesday, told her: “I want you to know I’m going to come after you for this. It might be day or night. It might be tomorrow or the next day or 10 years from now.

“But I can always track you down, and when I do, I’m going to kill you.”

Monahan has never forgotten the threat, and said she was afraid of what might have happened if Coe had been found innocent and set free.

“Considering the business I’m in,” she said, “I know that if someone really wanted to find me, it wouldn’t be all that hard. I didn’t want to be looking over my shoulder for the rest of my life.”

Monahan’s high public profile hasn’t made dealing with the stress of the Coe retrial any easier. Those who have read Jack Olsen’s book “Son,” which tells the story of Spokane’s notorious South Hill rapist, know that Monahan was a victim.

“For the past couple of weeks,” she said, “we haven’t even been able to go grocery shopping without someone coming up and asking me about it.”

Monahan was listening to the radio at home Tuesday morning when she heard the jury had reached a decision on three counts and was hung on the fourth. She rushed to the station and anxiously watched KREM’s live report from the Seattle courtroom on a monitor in the station’s newsroom.

“I was scared to death,” she said. “I knew that three of the women had been hypnotized. I was afraid the jury had found him not guilty on those three counts and that it was hung on the fourth.”

More tears flowed after she heard the court clerk repeat the jury’s guilty verdict three times.

“Whoever raped those three women raped me,” Monahan said. “I know they’ve been through a lot. It took tremendous courage for them to testify in court about what happened, and even more courage to do it all over again.”

Now, with Kevin Coe again convicted as the South Hill Rapist, Monahan hopes she and other victims can put what happened to them in the past and get on with their lives.

“I feel like I’ve been able to keep myself together pretty well,” she said. “I just hope the bad dreams stop.”

Wednesday, February 13, 1985

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From → KREM

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