Trail rumors aren't true

Monday, August 1, 2005

Q: I have had a number of women tell me they will not walk the Cape LaCroix Trail alone because there are people who live under the bridge and there have been attacks on walkers. I am having difficulty believing it, but I have heard this story from different sources. Is this true or just a rumor out of control?

A: "Not true," says Capt. Carl Kinnison of the Cape Girardeau Police Department. "I spend a few hours a week on the trail myself and have never seen anyone living under the bridges, and we have had no attacks reported for at least the past couple years. I think we've only had one since the trail has been there. That was where a guy reached out and grabbed a female, then fled."

On a personal note, my wife and I would echo Kinnison's assessment. We walk (and run) the trail regularly and have had no problems. Maybe because Victoria and I have spent time in big cities, though, both of us are more comfortable if she doesn't walk alone after dark. (We walk it together regularly at night, and parts of it are particularly beautiful when a full moon is out. Or after a heavy rain when the frogs sing.)

Last year we did have a friend visiting from Brooklyn. While the three of us were on the trail, I stopped to use the restroom at the golf driving range. When I emerged I jogged to catch up, and they were nowhere to be found. I ran the distance to the Osage Community Centre, asking some other folks if they'd seen two young women on the trail towards Route W. They said no. So I turned around and headed back to the driving range. It was at this time, in the middle of the woody area, in the distance, I heard screams. Were they the sounds of teenagers driving and having fun on Hopper Road or was someone being dragged off against their will? I didn't know, so I started my best sprint in years.

Still, they were nowhere to be seen.

Back at the batting cage, a kind man -- a manager at Chic Fil-A, who was preparing for a softball game -- gave me a ride back to Osage. Lo and behold, there my wife was with her friend, waiting by the car. They had decided to walk to the very end of the trail beyond Kingshighway before turning around, and I must have looped when they were out of sight. The whole time, they were worried about me.

While all turned out well, my imagination got the best of me, and it reinforced my thought that it's best to be careful when walking alone at night, even on the trail.

Q: My question concerns a rental house in our neighborhood that is not well taken care of. It's trashy and junky. Other than that, the neighborhood is nice. I would like to know whom to call, how to find out who the owner is, if something can be done to the owner or what city services are available to pursue this. These people leave litter all over the place and have overgrown bushes and what have you.

A: If you live in Cape Girardeau, you should contact Ty Metzger, nuisance abatement supervisor at the Cape Girardeau Police Department: 335-6621.

Here is what he said about your problem: "Basically I would need to know where the property is. Then I can take the necessary steps that are within my powers. In this case, I would (1) Locate the owner and inform them of the problem. (2) Contact the renter and give them a notice to clean the property. (3) Issue a summons if no one wants to comply with our laws. (4) I don't have any problem writing either party a summons for not complying."

Jon K. Rust is publisher of the Southeast Missourian. E-mail factorfiction@semissourian.com or call Speak Out (334-5111) and identify your call as a question for "Fact or Fiction?"

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