UPPER MARLBORO, Md. (DC News Now) — A concern for safety is on the rise across the country after there have been many reports of women being attacked while running. In Fairfax County, police are trying to catch a flasher targeting women on a trail in Virginia. DC News Now spoke to residents in Prince George’s County to learn what they’re doing to stay safe.
It’s a high-profile case in Memphis, Tennessee. 38-year-old Eliza Fletcher went out for her morning jog last Friday when she was abducted and killed. The suspect, Cleotha Abston now faces multiple charges including first-degree murder.
Just across the Maryland state line in Reston, Virginia, police say they’re investigating several incidents where a man tried to snatch a teenager and a woman while out for a walk.
“We do believe he is connected to our incidents in the last few weeks, and we’re going back to previous cases to determine whether those are connected as well,” said Fairfax County Police.
A study completed last year by “Run repeat” shows more than 45% of female runners have experienced harassment when out for a run, and nearly 10% of them were physically harassed while running.
“The way the world is today, it’s best to walk in twos instead of one woman walking alone, it’s not safe,” said Alton Jones, Prince George’s County resident.
Runners and walkers at Watkins Park in Upper Marlboro say the recent case in Memphis and the search for a man who assaulted women over in Virginia is a reminder they need to always stay on alert.
“She keeps a stick right by her door so when she goes out walking that’s what she brings. If anything were to go down we could help defend each other,” Lois said about her sister Esther.
Many others say they make safety a priority when out for a run.
“Stay with someone else besides, don’t go alone. Just realize your surroundings, just observe. The day and time we’re living in, we have to go out at a decent time,” said Paulette Jones.
For those who may not have a partner, carry self-defense weapons and jog in areas with a lot of people.
“Carry your taser or some mace or something so if you are approached you have something to fight back with,” said Sabrina, a Prince George’s County resident.
Another resident, Sharon, said, “Definitely be familiar in the area that you’re walking and running. I wouldn’t go somewhere unfamiliar and try to do too much.”
Prince George’s Park and Recreation trails always have park police on sight in case of any emergencies.