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Santa Rosa police arrest man in chilling stabbing of 50-year-old woman

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A Santa Rosa woman was stabbed in a brazen and unprovoked attack Tuesday night as she tried to unlock her apartment door, stopped by a masked assailant who quickly assaulted her then fled, Santa Rosa police said.

The chilling encounter unfolded about 11:42 p.m. at the apartment complex on Jennings Avenue near Range Avenue.

Detectives arrested Jesse James Graham, 40, a Santa Rosa-area homeless person, Wednesday afternoon following an overnight search and stakeout and booked him into Sonoma County Jail on $1 million bail for suspicion of attempted murder, Santa Rosa Police Sgt. Josh Ludtke said.

The 50-year-old woman was seriously wounded but expected to survive, he said. Police didn’t release the woman’s name because they think the suspect doesn’t know her identity and they are still investigating a motive for the stabbing.

Graham was identified as the suspected assailant through surveillance video that captured the violent attack.

Graham has distinctive face and head tattoos, and the assailant in the video had obscured his face with a hat and shirt or bandana wrapped around his face, Ludtke said. An apartment manager recognized Graham in the video as a man he had seen in the neighborhood and at a nearby gym, the sergeant said.

In the video, the woman parks her vehicle, gets out and walks to the front door of her apartment.

Graham walks across the parking lot with a knife in his hand, Ludtke said of the video.

“You can see he’s tracking her, he walks up behind her,” Ludtke said. “She’s literally at her door fumbling with her keys and he brutally stabs her.”

The man fled on foot, while the woman pounded on her front door, according to police. Her daughters, 21 and 19, let her inside, quickly applied pressure to her wound and called 911, Ludtke said.

She was stabbed with what police suspect was a 5-inch knife that caused potentially life-threatening internal injuries including a punctured lung, Ludtke said.

She was recovering Wednesday afternoon and able to communicate with detectives, he said.

Graham is a transient known to frequent the area around Coddingtown Mall near his mother’s residence, and he belongs to a local gym, Ludtke said. The woman he stabbed told police she thinks she’s seen him at the gym and in the neighborhood but she has not interacted with him and doesn’t know his identity, the sergeant said.

Police have been in contact with Graham on multiple occasions and he has prior arrests on suspected drug possession and disorderly conduct charges, court records show.

He was convicted in 2012 of felony vandalism and burglary and given a one-year jail sentence.

Graham is scheduled to be arraigned in Sonoma County Superior Court at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 707-521-5220 or julie.johnson@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @jjpressdem.

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