Too Close to Home

This story has the makings of a horrific fiction novel, but it’s true.  The unthinkable has happened right on the trails where I run – a woman was stabbed to death on New Year’s Eve.  It is confirmed that it was a random act of violence and her family is offering a reward for the capture of her killer.  It is rumored that she was running with earbuds.  Apparently, police received a call just prior to her death of a suspicious man on the trails.  He had approached another woman who had a cell phone and she called police.

I haven’t stopped thinking about this.  This is our neighborhood park and trail system.  There is a playground at the trail head.  On the day this happened, New Year’s Eve day, my husband took our kids there to play at 2:00pm, and I had planned to run when they came back, but I changed my mind – I wanted to have a “lazy” New Year’s Day. This was reported to have happened around 5:00pm.  I would have mostly likely been there at that time.  I can picture exactly where this happened because I’ve been there countless times – mostly by myself.  And I am ashamed to admit I have been leaving behind my pepper spray and whistle over the last few months.  I just became complacent.  This is a park.  There are always families here.  I do admit, though, that there have been MANY times where I have been running on a long stretch of trail where there are (seemingly) no other people at times and I was very nervous.  I have heard footsteps behind me and gotten my pepper spray ready.  But if I was attacked, am I really prepared? A friend of mine graciously invited me to a self-defense class for runners this weekend so I signed up.  Please review the many ways you can keep yourself safe while running .  I am considering what this means for my training runs.  I definitely won’t be returning to these trails.  I may end up running in the neighborhood.  Or the treadmill at the gym, as much as I don’t want to – but it is a much safer option.  I would love to hear all your feelings and opinions on this!

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28 thoughts on “Too Close to Home

  1. I saw that on the news. Thanks for posting this. It is a crazy situation and almost impossible to believe. My girlfriend does run on the trails by herself with earbuds as well. I like your idea of pepper spray and a whistle. Heck, maybe even a taser would be good.

    Without getting too graphic, where specifically did they find the body? In OP near the playground or down below on the trails? Too much craziness and too close to home.

    I hope this doesn’t ruin running for you. OP is a great park and has an amazing trail system for us runners. I hope this single incident doesn’t taint it for a bunch of people.

    • Inside info we’ve found tells us she was found about 100 yards into the trail near the YMCA. It was confirmed that it happened there on the trail (not that she was killed somewhere else and taken there for example). I couldn’t help but blog about it because I couldn’t sleep. Your girlfriend may want to look into the pepper spray that you wear around your wrist (runner’s Mace) because I have the kind you stick in your sports bra or just carry and I don’t think it’s as easy to use, thinking of getting the wrist kind myself.

      • Wow. I actually ran through that exact trail, the morning of the incident. From 8:30a-9:15a I ran 4 miles through those upper trails next to the YMCA.

        What is crazy is the fact that it seems to have been during the day. There aren’t many people on those upper trails, mostly bikers. It’s always better to be in heavily populated areas. The lower trails seem to always have a good amount of people on them.

  2. Yeah that’s what scares me too because it happened between 5-6pm. Normally I think that area would be more populated – I’ve run at that time VERY often. But it was New Year’s Eve. When my husband came back that day with the kids around 3pm he said the parking lot was about 1/3 full. By the time 5:00 came I’m sure people were off to their New Year’s Eve dinner/party plans.

  3. If someone is crazy enough to do something like that, he could have done it anywhere at any time. Don’t let it affect the way you view OP or humanity in general. I know it’s hard but it seems like a crazy anomaly.

    Get some sleep. I hope you have a good night. The best thing we can do is to learn from the situation. Don’t take anything for granted and always keep your pepper spray and phone with you when you run. If you need a fellow runner to talk to, contact me anytime.

  4. We are sorry to hear of this tragic murder and pray for the family. We take our grandchildren to this park all the time and live just down the road BUT now will go elsewhere.

    The sad fact is that the murderer may not be forced to pay for his crime as any investigation, arrest, interrogation, prosecution, etc. by SAPD, DA Reed, BCSO, etc. is tainted and can be challenged by the murder’s legal team. We have warned our elected officials and others about how the ongoing criminal conspiracy inside SAPD, the DAs office and the City/county will impact many, many cases. We warned them about the possibility of murderers , drug dealers and rapist walking free due to the legal ramifications of the ongoing criminal cover-up BUT sadly they ignore us.

    Hopefully, the Feds can step in and make sure that a process that will stand up in court will be put in place so as to bring this criminal to justice. We can only hope.

    We pray for justice.

  5. Sandra says:

    Aaack. 😦 Be safe.

    • I will thank you! I bought a new jogger’s Mace with a hand strap and a flip top today and carried it with me tonight through the parking lot at the gym. Not going back to that park anytime soon, or maybe ever. One of the running groups in town is encouraging people to run this weekend and to run their first mile as a “silent mile” in the victim’s honor. I will do that with my husband on another part of the trail.

  6. I’m so sorry – that is a gross feeling. And so sad for the family… I do hope they find him.

    I know what you mean about not wanting to go back. I had someone follow me this summer and it took a few weeks to muster up the courage to go back to the part of the run where it happened – i.e. right in front of my freaking house. I had a lot mixed emotions, like “shouldn’t I be totally awesome and not care?” mixed with “I”m not stupid and I don’t want to die!”

    I ended up doing these things:
    (1) bought a whistle
    (2) ditched the earbuds
    (3) keep my head on a swivel and make eye contact with everyone I meet, and say hello to them
    (4) carry a charged cell phone with the police on speed dial.

    The only reason the guy went away was because I stopped in my tracks, indicated that I saw him, and that I wasn’t having it. I was terrified, but as soon as my cell phone came out, he walked right away. I never reported him, your story really makes me wish I had. So thanks for sharing it. It’s always a good reminder that we shouldn’t drop our guard. The article that you linked is great.

    Long comment, sorry – just wanted to give you a hug and say that I hope you (a) stay safe first! and (b) don’t feel totally pushed out of running. Keep us posted.

    • Wow Ashley that sounds terrifying, and to happen right outside your house! I can totally picture that though. I’ve run in my neighborhood and had a false sense of security, but it could easily have happened here too. Thank you so much for sharing your story – I can’t imagine what that must have felt like. I keep picturing myself in the scenario of this victim. The only thing I would have had going for me would be that I don’t wear headphones. Maybe I would’ve heard him coming. But I know I wouldn’t have had my pepper spray because I’ve been leaving it behind. Today I bought a new jogger’s Mace that has a wrist/hand strap and a flip top. I tried it out in the parking lot going to the gym tonight. I plan to carry it with me everywhere, even shopping. I showed my kids the Mace (I had shown them my old pepper spray but it had been awhile) and told them that it is a weapon and they are not to touch it or play with it. I will keep you updated. For now I’m reluctantly going to stick to the gym or running with my husband. One of the local running groups is encouraging runners this weekend to dedicate their first mile to be a “silent mile” in the victim’s name, so my husband and I plan to do that. Thanks again for your comment 🙂

      • Can you post a link to that runners mace? It sounds like a great idea. I’ve avoided mace since it would not be quick enough to extract from a pack, pocket, etc. but this sounds different. There’s also a GPS unit called Bia sport that has a built in panic button – just sharing what I know 🙂

  7. Sure! I bought mine at Academy for $11.99 but it also looks like Amazon has it, and Dick’s Sporting Goods if you have those in your area. It’s the actual Mace brand. I read great reviews on it. It feels great in my hand and my husband commented that it “looks” like a weapon and would be intimidating. We thought about how this victim was completely defenseless – earbuds in, no Mace, no dog, no companion – she was an easy target. I don’t want to be that. I will definitely look up that Bia unit because I’ve thought about something like that too. Thanks!

  8. […] my recent post referencing this story about the brutal stabbing death of a young female runner on m…, I haven’t stopped thinking about the victim, her family, and what this means for the future […]

  9. Jen Gardener says:

    Oh how awful. I hope they catch him soon! For your own peace of mind as well. I say keep running the track but be alert and prepared. It’s obviously such a big part of your life, I’ve seen other posts you’ve put up about the track and how much you like running. It’d be a shame to let this guy take that away.

    • Thank you for your words of encouragement! I really appreciate it. I do think I am leaning towards still running out there. Maybe starting at a different point where the trail is more open. And this has definitely been a lesson to me to be more aware of my surroundings. And to maybe carry a weapon :/

  10. […] morning, my husband and I attended a moving tribute the young woman slain while running on our local trails on New Year’s Eve.  It was a Silent Mile, organized by a runner who did […]

  11. […] the aftermath of the brutal slaying of a young woman who was running on our local trails on New Year’s Eve, our community of runners has been shocked, scared, saddened, and now […]

  12. Sooo sorry to hear this, but so very glad they found the guy! I’m paranoid about stuff like this and started running with mace, and outdoors only during daylight hours…in my neighborhood, no trails. I know it can happen anytime & anywhere, but I try to be cautious and aware. I, too, make eye contact with everyone/every vehicle I meet…normally waving to indicate “I see you”. This time of year I’m treadmill running except on weekends. Stay safe!

  13. […] since the horrific murder on the trails where I run, I haven’t run alone outdoors.  I’ve resorted to forcing myself to go to the gym and, […]

  14. […] weeks ago, the murder that was too close to home happened.  I kept imagining myself there because I was supposed to go there that same day.  This […]

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