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Husband: Wife’s fatal stabbing near Paris was random attack

This undated photo provided by the family shows Cathleen McDonough of Rye, N.H. McDonough, who was stabbed to death near Paris, was attacked at random by a homeless man who was deemed unfit to stand trial, her husband said Monday, April 24, 2017. McDonough was fatally stabbed from behind on April 6 as she was taking photos of street art in a suburb of Paris. She was in France visiting her daughter. (Randy Walker via AP)

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A New Hampshire woman who was stabbed to death near Paris was attacked at random by a homeless man who was deemed unfit to stand trial, her husband said Monday.

John McDonough, of Rye, recently returned with his wife’s remains and possessions after meeting with French authorities and U.S. Embassy representatives. Cathleen McDonough, 52, was fatally stabbed from behind on April 6 as she was taking photos of street art in a suburb of Paris. She was in France visiting her daughter, who works for a foundation.

John McDonough said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press that police told him the man apparently was angry that she was taking photos. He was told the man who attacked his wife was about 55, was from Gambia, had no identification or passport, and was found wandering near her with a knife in his hand.

A prosecutor said at the time that the man was arrested without incident and taken to a psychiatric hospital. The prosecutor’s office Monday would not discuss the case in detail, but said investigators have not found any sign of terrorism or premeditation.

McDonough said he found remnants of a makeshift memorial of flowers and candles where his wife was killed in Montreuil.

Cathleen McDonough, an avid photographer who was just starting to sell her work, was taking photos of a spray-painted image on an old, abandoned shell of a building that had some steel artwork on the top.

“She had hundreds of photos of street art, and most of it was really neat graffiti, bright-colored images and names. She loved doing that stuff,” he said.

McDonough said the street itself was in a quiet neighborhood “with moms with kids in strollers,” he said. “It actually was a very pretty area.”

He said French police told him what happened was a random act of violence.

“We just have to deal with the loss,” he said. “I don’t have any room in my heart to be angry. I’m just sad. She was a really, really, wonderful person.”

McDonough, 54, a marine surveyor, said they had been married for 27 years. He proposed to her within the first hour of meeting her, she accepted, and they were officially husband and wife two weeks later. They also have a son.

Cathleen McDonough enjoyed traveling and belonged to a 200-member women’s singing group based in Portsmouth, “Voices from the Heart,” that visited Cuba in 2012.

“She got us up every morning to explore Cuba as it was waking up, and we didn’t miss an opportunity to talk with people and immerse ourselves in the culture,” a friend and “Voices” member Erika Mantz said in a reading at the group’s first rehearsal following McDonough’s death. “She opened my eyes.”

The group sang at the rehearsal in her honor.

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Associated Press writer Angela Charlton in Paris contributed to this story.

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