OAKLAND — For years, Dilma Franks-Spruill had safely made the few blocks walk to her West Oakland home from her job at the main post office where she was a highly respected employee. She did not make it Wednesday morning.
The 71-year-old mother was confronted and stabbed without provocation multiple times by a man she did not know about 12:30 a.m. Wednesday in the 1500 block of Eighth Street, authorities said.
The vicious, senseless attack happened about a block from her home, and she died where it happened.
On Thursday, 28-year-old Wilbert Winchester, a transient, was charged with murder and other crimes in Franks-Spruill’s death as well as attempted murder in the stabbing of another woman Monday morning on an AC Transit bus in East Oakland, according to authorities and court records.
The victim in the bus stabbing is a 59-year-old woman. The unprovoked attack happened while she was a passenger on a bus traveling in the 3400 block of International Boulevard. In a social-media post, Oakland police said officers responded shortly before 1 a.m. Monday to the 3400 block of International Boulevard for a reported knife assault, and arrived to find her suffering from multiple stab wounds. The suspect fled the bus but was later identified as Winchester.
According to an Oakland police officer’s probable-cause declaration within charging documents obtained Thursday from the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, officers responded to the Wednesday assault after a caller told a dispatcher that a man had his foot on a woman’s neck and that the woman was yelling for help.
When officers arrived, they found the woman suffering from multiple stab wounds, and called paramedics and Oakland Fire Department firefighters for help. Despite first responders’ efforts, the woman was pronounced dead at 1:03 a.m.
After speaking with a witness in the area, an officer learned the attack was likely part of a series of unprovoked attacks by a suspect with a similar description who struck victims in the face or head with a metal pole. In at least one attack, the suspect also slashed a victim multiple times with a knife or box cutter.
About two hours after the attack, two officers saw a man matching the suspect description walking in the 2100 block of Lakeshore Avenue and carrying a metal pipe. When the officers detained him, they saw there was blood on a pair of off-white gloves he was wearing, and confiscated a green box cutter with what appeared to be blood on it.
After other officers helped quickly set up an in-field lineup, the previous witness said the suspect, identified as Winchester, “looked like the person that assaulted the murder victim.”
Officers arrested him on suspicion of murder and took him to police headquarters. After advising him of his rights, police said Winchester “placed himself in the area of the homicide at the time of the homicide, but denied any involvement.”
Police have not determined a motive for either attack. Spruill’s killing has left family and co-workers devastated.
The stabbings he is now charged with are not the only times Winchester is accused of attacking a woman at random.
According to court records, in March of 2017, he was arrested and charged with kicking a 73-year-old woman in the head aboard a San Francisco-bound BART train in Oakland causing the woman to be hospitalized.
Winchester did not know the woman. In that case, he was initially charged with assault causing great bodily injury and false imprisonment of an elderly person.
In a plea bargain in May of 2018 he pleaded no contest to the false imprisonment count and in August 2018 was given a three-year prison sentence with more than a year’s credit for time served. He was also ordered to make financial restitution to the victim who was given a 10-year protective order against him, court records show.
According to court records, Winchester was also convicted in February 2017 of a December 2016 battery on a transit passenger and was later placed on three years probation. There were no additional details immediately available about that case.
Winchester was in custody Thursday night at Santa Rita Jail without bail and faces arraignment Friday morning at Oakland’s Wiley W. Manuel courthouse, according to an Alameda County records check.
Contact George Kelly at 408-859-5180.