January 7, 2012 - I got a call that my cousin, Sherry's, shoe was found along side of a road in Sidney, Montana where she had taken an early morning run. There was no sign of Sherry.
It would be two weeks before we found out what had happened through a confession by one of the killers. Sherry had been grabbed by two men, high on crack cocaine, who were on the side of the road in their Ford Explorer. They strangled her and later went to Walmart to buy tools to bury her. Her body was found two months later in a shallow grave near the North Dakota/Montana border.
|When I went to Sherry's funeral, I visited the sport where she was |
abducted and ran there. It was right along this dirt path.
Sherry and I are the same age. Like me, she had two teenage children, a boy and a girl. Like me, she was married. Like me, she had one sibling and was very close to her parents who lived in the same town. I actually did not know Sherry all that well. We had spent time together a couple years prior to her death when my family visited her in Montana and at later at a wedding. We also saw each other when I was ten when we visited her family's ranch in Montana. We shared the same uncle and we shared the same sense of humor (farting, anyone?). We also shared a love for running and often messaged about that.
|Summer of 2008. Sherry is in the red shirt on the right.|
For a minute after Sherry died, I thought maybe I shouldn't run alone anymore. Nope. Not gonna happen. I do, however, have two steadfast rules:
- No running in the dark by myself
- No running in remote locations or trails by myself
I don't deviate from these rules.
When something horrible happens, it is human nature to think and rationalize why the same thing couldn't happen to us. If someone is running at midnight in a really bad part of town and they get attacked, one might think, "Well...duh...they shouldn't have been running there at that time." Yet, there are many instances, like in Sherry's case, where it was simply a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Sherry grew up in Sidney. These were her streets. Until a few years ago, Sidney had been a quiet and remote town with little crime. However, as more and more oil was discovered in the area, more and more people were brought in to work in the oil fields. People in Sidney will tell you that this is when problems began. Crime grew. People started locking their doors.
The two guys who attacked Sherry had driven up to Montana from Colorado the previous day. They were high on crack. They came to Sidney to work in the oil fields. That morning, they parked along the side of the road, looking to do something "bad" to a woman. Sherry ran by them and told them "Hi." They grabbed her and pulled her into their car.
This could be any of us.
I agree that the threat of bad things happening cannot paralyze us. We cannot stay locked inside of our homes, because that is absolutely NO way to live. But, we can take precautions that just might save our lives:
People say it’s not fair that women have to be more careful and are easier and more frequent targets than men. Fair or not fair, it’s a fact. Let’s deal with it the best we can while continuing to make efforts to take back our streets.
Any other tips to share on how to stay safe out there?