75-year-old woman was murdered, police say
Police have classified the strangling death of 75-year-old Grass Valley resident Mary Spratt as a homicide, investigators said Tuesday.
“We’re focusing on it as a homicide because of the accumulation of all the evidence at the scene,” said Grass Valley Police Capt. Don Muren.
Spratt was found dead in her apartment May 4 on the 100 block of West Empire Street by a neighbor who saw Spratt’s back door ajar and went inside to check on her.
Police would not name the weapon used to strangle Spratt. An autopsy revealed she died from ligature strangulation, meaning something was wrapped around her neck.
A toxicology report, due back in several weeks, will determine whether there were any drugs in Spratt’s system.
Muren said he did not think the results of the toxicology report would contradict investigators’ determination of homicide.
Personal property was missing from her apartment, including a purse and its contents, her relatives told investigators.
“It may be related to the case,” Muren said.
Police found another purse belonging to Spratt in the apartment, but it is not the purse family members referred to, he said.
Rape did not appear to be a motivation, Muren said.
Spratt’s aunt, Betty McClanahan of Wisconsin, said her niece may have been involved with drug and alcohol abuse long ago.
“I know she was having a pretty bad time at one point,” McClanahan said.
She doubts Spratt – a volunteer worker who played Bingo – had recently been involved with anyone who used illegal drugs.
Spratt may have interacted with “unsavory characters” through her work as a volunteer at mental health institutions, McClanahan said, but she would not have invited them into her home.
Police have not made any arrests in connection to Spratt’s death.
“There are no suspects at this time,” Muren said. “We’re talking to everyone who had access to (Spratt) and who may have taken advantage of her situation.”
Muren asks anyone with information about Spratt’s death to call Sgt. Doug Hren at the Grass Valley Police Department, 477-4600.
To contact Staff Writer Robyn Moormeister, e-mail robynm@ theunion.com or call 477-4236.
How to help
Do you have information about Mariam Spratt’s death?
Call Sgt. Doug Hren at the Grass Valley Police Department, 477-4600.
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