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Published: Wednesday, 9/27/2006

Toledo man is arraigned in city s latest murder

BLADE STAFF

A local man was ordered this morning to remain in the Lucas County jail in lieu of a $500,000 bond on a murder charge involving a local mother.

Judge Robert Christiansen of Toledo Municipal Court arraigned Charles McDonald, 33, of 1311 Fernwood Ave. and then continued the hearing until tomorrow morning so Mr. McDonald could obtain an attorney.

Mr. McDonald, who is a refuse collector for the city of Toledo, was arrested yesterday and charged with the shooting death of Ericka Graham, 27, of 21 Brand Whitlock.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com

From Wednesday's early editions

By CHRISTINA HALL

BLADE STAFF WRITER

A city of Toledo refuse collector was arrested yesterday in the murder of a central-city mother of two who was found shot in the head inside her residence.

Charles McDonald, 33, of 1311 Fernwood Ave., was being held in the Lucas County jail on one count of murder and is scheduled for arraignment today in Toledo Municipal Court.

He is charged with the death of Ericka Graham, 27, of 21 Brand Whitlock. Her body was found in an upstairs bedroom Monday morning.

Police Chief Mike Navarre said Mr. McDonald was questioned by detectives for several hours Monday and released.

Police then conducted additional interviews and gathered more evidence. They interviewed Mr. McDonald again yesterday and charged him with Ms. Graham s murder.

Ms. Graham was known to Mr. McDonald, but Chief Navarre declined further comment on the connection.

However, Denise Graham-Banks, Ericka s mother, said last night that Mr. McDonald is her daughter s former boyfriend.

She said she has no idea why her daughter was killed.

After her slaying, police had said her death might have been connected to a weekend double murder of two men who were linked to a multimillion-dollar cocaine ring that stretched from Toledo to Chicago.

Toledo Police Chief Mike Navarre and Assistant Chief Don Kenney announce the arrest in the most recent city shooting.
Toledo Police Chief Mike Navarre and Assistant Chief Don Kenney announce the arrest in the most recent city shooting.
Enlarge

But Chief Navarre said Ms. Graham was an innocent victim.

It s important to note there is no information that Ericka Graham [was] involved in any illegal drug activity we were investigating, he said.

The double-murder victims, Brian Davis, 29, of Springfield Township, and Lloyd Henderson, 29, of Springfield, Ohio, died of multiple gunshot wounds in their heads.

Their bodies were found Sunday afternoon in a vehicle in the 300 block of East Lake Street in North Toledo. A Lucas County deputy coroner said it appeared the men had been dead since Saturday night.

Chief Navarre said different small handguns were used in Ms. Graham s shooting and the double murder. He declined to comment on whether the guns were recovered and whether Mr. McDonald was a suspect in the double murder.

This is a very complex investigation, related to a major drug investigation that concluded Sept. 13 Operation Tailgate, he said of the double murder.

Mr. Davis and Mr. Henderson were uncharged suspects in the year-long drug investigation. Authorities searched Mr. Davis apartment Sept. 13 as part of the investigation and he was charged with misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.

The arrest of Charles McDonald [yesterday] does not bring this to closure, Chief Navarre said.

Mr. McDonald worked Monday, but is not suspected of killing Ms. Graham while he was on city time, Assistant Police Chief Don Kenney said.

Her time of death was established prior to his working hours, the assistant chief said.

An autopsy showed Ms. Graham s preliminary cause of death was a single gunshot wound in the head. Her body had no additional trauma, said Dr. Cynthia Beisser, Lucas County deputy coroner.

Police said Ms. Graham s children tried to awaken her, but couldn t. They called a relative, who came over and called 911. Police said they believe Ms. Graham s children were home at the time of the shooting.

Mr. McDonald is a collector in the city s solid waste division. He was part-time for four years and became full-time in May, said Brian Schwartz, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner s spokesman. Mr. McDonald s salary is $31,104.

Mr. McDonald s job status was unknown last night.

Chief Navarre said Mr. McDonald has some criminal history. Toledo Municipal Court records show cases dating to 1994 and include convictions for misdemeanors such as disorderly conduct, domestic violence, criminal damaging, and traffic offenses. Other misdemeanors such as domestic violence, assault, menacing, endangering children, and traffic offenses were dismissed.

Records indicate Mr. McDonald s name was listed for an address in the 300 block of East Lake in July, 2005, and for an address in the Brand Whitlock Homes in 1998.

He was arrested hours after police announced the formation of a task force to solve the murders of Mr. Davis and Mr. Henderson.

The 12-member group includes the assistant chief, the captains of the investigative services and special enforcement bureaus, the investigative services lieutenant, six homicide detectives, and a city police detective and an FBI agent both assigned to the Metro Drug Task Force.

The Metro Drug Task Force members are affiliated with Operation Tailgate and are working hand-in-hand with the homicide detectives, sharing information and looking for witnesses and suspects, Assistant Chief Kenney said.

He said the command officers on the task force meet daily.

The assistant chief said Ms. Graham was newly acquainted with people involved in Operation Tailgate, but there was no reason to suspect she had any knowledge of what they were involved in. He said police believe a drug transaction was occurring when the shootings involving Mr. Davis and Mr. Henderson happened.

Chief Navarre said there is no connection between the murders of Mr. Davis and Mr. Henderson and the double murder Sept. 19 of Tammy Cappelletty, 30, and Juan Ybarra, 24, both of Toledo, nearby in the north end.

Latrel Brown, 25, of 915 East Bancroft St., was charged with two counts of murder in the Sept. 19 case and is being held in the jail in lieu of a $1 million bond. Both victims were found shot in the head in a car at Locust and Baker streets. They later died at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center.

Contact Christina Hall at: chall@theblade.com or 419-724-6007.



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