How to Protect Yourself While Running

How to Protect Yourself While Running

Hundreds of thousands of Americans choose to run in order to stay active and healthy. However, for many women this average, daily routine can be deadly. Over the past few weeks, several women have disappeared while on a run and have been found dead hours later. These incidents remind us that we can be vulnerable even while doing the simplest of activities.


Karina Vetrano. August 2, 2016.karina-vetrano image
Karina left her house for her usual jog at about 5:30pm on August 2nd. Vetrano was jogging in a popular running destination in Queens, New York, known as Spring Creek Park when she was attacked, assaulted and strangled. A fewhours later, her father and local authorities discovered her body, but they have not been able to find her killer. Vetrano’s running routine was fairly well known in the area, according to several reports. She would often run with her father, but due to a back injury Mr. Vetrano could not accompany Karina on August 2nd.


Vanessa Marcotte. August 7, 2016.Vanessa Marcotte Image

Vanessa was last seen in the early afternoon on August 7th when she left for a run. Marcotte was visiting her mother for the weekend in Princeton, Massachusetts when she was attacked and killed. According to the Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early, Marcotte most likely fought back leaving her attacker with cuts and bruises. The police canine unit found Marcotte’s body late Sunday evening, only about half of a mile away from where she was staying.


Potential Serial Killer: Similar Modus Operand

Both of the homicide cases share commonalities in the attacker or attackers modus operandi or mode of operation (MO). Both of the victims were young, Karina was 30 years old and Vanessa was 27; both also shared physical feature like brown hair and light brown/hazel eyes. The women were both attacked while jogging, and both of their bodies were found the same day as the attack suggesting the attacker wanted to work quickly and did not spend time hiding the body. One major difference between the two cases is that Karina was known to have jogged the same area fairly regularly and it is possible she was targeted, whereas Vanessa was only in town visiting for the weekend suggesting she was just at the wrong place and the wrong time. According to CNN, once the DNA from Vanessa’s body is back from analysis, the police will be able to determine whether or not the same person committed the two murders.


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 Crime Scene Image


How to Stay Safe on a Run

Following the consecutive murders of Karina Vetrano and Vanessa Marcotte, many runners are wondering what techniques they can use to stay safe. Some basic safety tips include: running with others, running without headphones, change up your route, run against oncoming traffic, take self defense classes and carry mace (when legally allowed to do so).

  1. Running with others makes you less vulnerable to attackers. If there are multiple people capable of fighting back, an attacker will most likely go for someone more defenseless.
  2. Running with headphones distracts you. You can’t hear someone come up behind you or start following you. Staying aware of your surroundings is necessary when out for a run.
  3. Making changes to your routine can help you from being attacked by someone who knows your route. If you never stick to the same route, an attacker will have to improvise or find someone else making your chances of survival greater.
  4. Running against traffic helps you stay aware of cars driving by. It is more difficult for an attacker to drive up to you and grab you when you can see them slowing down or opening their door.
  5. Self-defense classes will help you stay calm and alert in order to resist an attacker. Knowing how to fight back is vital because in many cases an attacker will give up if you are not easy prey.
  6. Carry mace to blind and disorient your attacker.

Remember to trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable or nervous, no matter how crazy you may think you are, trust those feelings because they could save your life. Your subconscious and nervous system trigger those survival instincts for a reason, and you should listen and act accordingly.


If you have any information regarding Karina Vetrano’s murder call: NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782)

If you have any information regarding Vanessa Marcotte’s murder call: (508) 453-7589

The Importance of External Investigations: Molly Miller and Colt Haynes

The Importance of External Investigations: Molly Miller and Colt Haynes

The Facts of the Case

Molly Miller was last seen on July 8, 2013, from Wilson, Oklahoma. Molly’s disappearance has been classified as endangered missing. Molly is currently twenty years old, but at the time of her disappearance she was seventeen years old. Molly is five feet five inches, with brown hair and blue eyes. She has a piercing on her lower lip on the right side as well as a tattoo of a star on her hip

.Molly Miller Image

Early on July 8, 2013 Molly Miller and Colt Haynes disappeared from Wilson, Oklahoma. The night of the disappearance, both Molly and Colt were in a 2012 Honda Accord with James Conn Nipp, according to various reports James was driving recklessly and they were throwing stones at police cars. They were pursued by police, but eventually made it away.

Molly called 911 early July 8 at 12:47 a.m., but she did not say anything to the dispatcher. There are conflicting reports James Nipp Arrest Image
about whether or not the dispatcher attempted to call Molly back a few moments later.   According to Molly’s friends and family, she placed several calls saying she was somewhere in a field and needed someone to pick her up. Colt, according to reports, also called his friends pleading for help; he told his friends that he was lying in a creek with a broken ankle. Colt’s friends were not able to find him. Molly and Colt were never heard from again.

Weeks later, on July 22, the car both were supposedly last seen in was found in a field near the end of the police chase. The car had tens of thousands worth of damage; James Conn Nipp’s girlfriend, Sabrina Graham, who owned the Honda, initially told Police that Nipp had stolen her car, but later stated that she allowed him to borrow her car. Nipp and Graham were never strongly linked to the disappearances of Molly and Colt by police due to lack of evidence.


Potential Small Town Cover Up

James Conn Nipp is related to the Love County’s Sheriff, Joe Russell, who has been charged with “corruption while in office, habitual or willful neglect of duty, and willful maladministration” according to KXII-TV reports. Molly Miller’s LII - PHoto | FBIfamily strongly believes that Sheriff Russell never thoroughly investigated the disappearances of Molly and Colt in order to protect Nipp, his cousin. Paula Fielder, Miller’s cousin, told The Daily Beast “Sheriff Russell… refused to allow her family to file a missing person report within days of Miller’s disappearance. The Love County dispatcher told relatives they needed to file a report with the Wilson Police Department because it was not Russell’s ‘problem’.” Fortunately, a grand jury has since filed charges against Sheriff Russell in order to remove him from office. However, since the Sheriff was released from jail he has returned to work. Miller’s family hopes that Sheriff Russell’s pending arrest will finally bring them answers.


The Importance of External Investigations

Molly and Colt’s disappearance demonstrates that police can actively and passively influence a criminal investigation, which can leave families waiting for answers for years. While corruption in United States law enforcement is not rampant, there are still cases of criminal investigations being conducted improperly. Private investigators can be a useful tool for families feeling that their loved one’s case is not getting enough attention. Private investigators can conduct their own investigation ensuring families’ get all the information they can. Moreover, private investigators can collect evidence and information to provide to prosecutors in a criminal trial. If you feel your loved ones case is being handled improperly, contact a private investigations firm in order to get the answers your family deserves.