If you live in Cape Girardeau and love to exercise, you no doubt include the Cape LaCroix Recreation Trail in your workouts.
And why wouldn't you? The roughly five mile trail traverses the city from north to south and features a meandering creek, wooded areas and even baseball fields to watch a bit of a game as you run or stroll by.
But it's the woods that has a few people in town scared. A few weeks ago a woman was attacked near the woods in the section of the trail near the Osage Center. Now some exercisers are thinking twice before hitting the trail.
Heather Winston trained for a half marathon on the trail, but was a little wary the other day when she and her children walked the path. "I was just thinking about that attack. What if something were to happen.
What would I do? I have nothing on me. No keys. No phone. We turned around and headed back to the car," said the mother of two.
Julia Thompson is the director of parks and recreation for the city of Cape Girardeau. As a resident, she enjoys using the trail, but as the person in charge of it, she cringes when she hears about trouble on the trail, "There really hasn't been much trouble in the 15 year history of the trail.
Maybe three incidents that we are aware of. Still, that's three too many." The key, according to Thompson, is to get more people on the trail, " We have so many people on this trail every day. That helps make it safer.
We need to find ways to get more people out here so that people feel safe here." The city is also looking into improved signage and lighting in certain areas so that people who exercise later can feel better about being on the trail.
Darin Hickey has been a police officer for 13 years. He says there is no way to for anyone, anywhere to be crime-proof.
He does, however, say it's possible for people to make themselves a hard target, "Pay attention to your surroundings.
Be aware of what's going on. Tell people that you're going to the trail and how long you'll be gone.
Don't come out to the trail and night. Consider carrying mace or a phone, if that makes you feel better.
Hickey wants people to be careful, not paranoid, "My family and I use this trail all the time. We have officers who patrol the trail.
It runs through safe neighborhoods. People should not be afraid to come out here. They should just take steps to make themselves as safe as possible." Laura Boos runs the trail whenever she can.
Born and raised in Cape Girardeau, she says while she thinks about something happening, it doesn't stop her, "I've lived here all my life. Am I thinking about it? Yes. Am I going to let it stop me from exercising? No."