The man charged in connection with the 1996 sexual assault of a 79-year-old New Westminster woman had died, police said Wednesday.
After a DNA analysis linked him to the crime, James Gray was charged with aggravated sex assault, break-and-enter, forcible confinement, robbery, choking to overcome resistance and uttering threats against Dorothy Darnell. He was 48 years old at the time.
The grandmother was attacked in her home on the morning of Oct. 4, 1996.
According to police, her attacker beat her “so severely that her cheekbone was shattered” and she later lost sight in that eye.
After Darnell lost consciousness, her attacker sexually assaulted her.
Gray was arrested and charged in 2017 and had been in custody at a pre-trial centre when he died last week.
“It is unfortunate that Mr. Gray will not face these matters in a court of law,” said Sgt Jeff Scott.
“However, we are satisfied with the hard work of many investigators which advanced this file to a stage where we were able to arrest and charge [him].”
Darnell herself had died in 2015 after decades of advocating for seniors’ safety.