Homicide detectives Wednesday night were looking for a man suspected of stabbing a 26-year-old Waterford woman to death early Wednesday in a motel room on McHenry Avenue, a police spokesman said.
Modesto police Sgt. Brian Findlen said Katherine Voelker was taken by ambulance to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Detectives were looking for Erick John Vogel, 38, of Waterford, who is suspected of stabbing Voelker before he left the motel, Findlen said.
Police said Vogel and Voelker once were in a relationship and had children together. Voelker's and Vogel's families could not be reached Wednesday.
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The motel's night manager declined to comment Wednesday.
The stabbing death is the city's seventh homicide this year and the fourth this month.
Police declined to release several details about the attack, fearing it would harm the investigation.
The attack occurred about 2:20 a.m. at the Rodeway Inn at 936 McHenry Ave., between Fairmont and Hintze avenues. Modesto police responded to a report of an injured woman at the motel.
Findlen said officers arrived and found Voelker inside the room with at least one stab wound. Police would not say how many times she was stabbed.
He said Vogel forced his way into the room, where Voelker was staying with her two young children. Findlen declined to release the ages of the children.
The children were not harmed during the attack on their mother. Child Protective Services had custody of the children Wednesday eve- ning, Findlen said.
Police would not say how Vogel forced his way into the room, what weapon was used or whether a weapon was recovered.
"It is clear he forced entry into the room and brutally attacked this woman," Findlen said.
Detectives believe the attack was an act of domestic violence. Findlen said Voel-ker had a restraining order issued in Stanislaus County against Vogel, "protecting her from him."
He said the restraining order dictated that Vogel was to remain 100 yards from Voel-ker. He declined to comment on any previous domestic disputes between the couple.
Detectives were trying to determine whether the couple was ever married, how many children they had together and whether Vogel was the father of the children in the motel room.
Left in dark-colored car
Police said Vogel was seen leaving the motel parking lot in a dark-colored car. As Vogel fled, he drove through a chain-link fence that borders the motel property.
Findlen said the getaway car sustained front-end damage, including scrapes and scratches, before turning onto McHenry Avenue.
He said Vogel is known to drive a faded-black 1991 Nissan Maxima with California license plate 5XDF473. The Maxima has a large dent on the right rear quarter-panel and customized black rims.
Police released an old jail-booking photo of Vogel, whose appearance has changed since then. Findlen said Vogel is cleanshaven and has a short, buzz-cut hairstyle.
Findlen said homicide detectives were gathering information, conducting interviews and following up on leads Wednesday evening.
Detectives ask anyone with information about this stabbing or Vogel's whereabouts to call Modesto police at 572-9500 or Crime Stoppers at 521-4636. Crime Stoppers tipsters also
can e-mail tips through the Crime Stoppers Web site, www.modestopolice.com/
CrimeStoppers, or text tips to CRIMES (274637) by typing "Tip704" plus the message. Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and are eligible for a cash reward.
Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2394.